A 13-year-old woman has been present in Georgia after allegedly being kidnapped, held for 9 days and raped by an grownup man she met on Roblox. Police arrested Howard Graham after discovering he had satisfied the woman to go away her house in Kansas—after simply two days of talking on the app—telling her he would choose her up.
Captain John Ivey of the Clayton County Police Division advised a press convention (per the Miami Herald) that Graham and the woman had met by means of Roblox on February 18. On February 20 she left her house in Topeka, Kansas, the place Graham picked her up earlier than driving her roughly 900 miles to his house in Clayton County, Georgia.
Police stated they believed the younger woman was subsequently sexually assaulted “many instances.” As advised by Captain Ivey, she despatched a message to her mom by means of Roblox on February 24, sharing the handle of a Greenback Common retailer the place she’d been taken.
Following investigations, the police arrested Graham at his job on March 1. The 33-year-old has been charged with intercourse trafficking, kidnapping, and rape.
“We’re really fortunate we discovered this younger woman and he or she was alive,” stated Captain Ivey. “I want folks would pay extra consideration to what their children are doing. Predators will go on and prey on little children.”
The size of Roblox is tough to overstate: in a latest monetary report, the corporate estimated its day by day energetic customers quantity an astonishing 54.7 million people. But it faces continued criticism over the way it protects its overwhelmingly younger viewers. Numerous investigations have prompt the platform is an unsafe place for children earlier than this level, and its young users can easily find sexually explicit content—although these investigations concern scams, content material theft and inappropriate materials. It will be unfair to conflate Roblox’s moderation and content material points with one thing as severe as alleged abduction and rape. That stated: that is about as dangerous because it will get.
Youngster abduction is rare in the US: “fewer than 350 folks below the age of 21 have been kidnapped by strangers in the USA per yr since 2010.” That statistic is in context of a rustic of 329.5M folks. This incident shouldn’t be downplayed however on the identical time it needs to be seen as terribly uncommon: relatively than as an indication there’s an under-reported pandemic of Roblox kidnappings.
In a statement provided to the BBC, Roblox Company spokesman James Kay stated the corporate was “deeply saddened” by the case. “There may be nothing extra vital to oldsters—together with the various dad and mom who work at Roblox—than making certain that kids are protected once they be taught and play, on-line or off. We work tirelessly to stop grooming on our platform. We have now stringent security techniques and a group of 1000’s of moderators who implement a strict set of neighborhood requirements on Roblox, together with zero tolerance for sexual content material of any variety. Whereas we’ve not been contacted by authorities about this case, we all the time cooperate with legislation enforcement requests and promptly report any suspect conduct to related organizations.”