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Website Linked to Child Rapes, Security Improves

By Mike Valerio, Reporter
Published On: Aug 23 2012 11:26:07 PM CDT
JACKSONVILLE -

A Marine based in Onslow County was charged with raping an 11-year-old girl July 21, finding the victim through social networking website Skout.com. According to police investigations, three other men across the country are accused of using the same site to rape under-aged victims.

Chandler Bible, 20, is accused taking an 11 and a 13-year-old to a Days Inn Hotel in Jacksonville. Investigators said DNA evidence was found inside the hotel room, indicating a rape. Family members said in an interview at their home the Marine found the girls online using Skout.com.

Skout is a website where millions of users log in, and find possible dates nearby. According to media and police reports, the alleged Onslow County rape is not the first case where alleged sex offenders used Skout to prey on children.

Police said Christopher Bradley Nutt, 24, posed as a teenager on the site, and raped a 12-year-old near San Diego. Milwaukee authorities arrested Daniel Schmidt, 21, after he allegedly posed as a 16-year-old, and met a 13-year-old boy in a park. Schmidt now faces one count of second-degree sexual assault of a child.

A 15-year-old Skout user was also allegedly kidnapped and raped by Gene Zimmerman, 37, in Portsmouth, Ohio east of Cincinnati.

A Skout spokesperson, Lydia Chan, said in a phone interview Thursday the website suspended its service to young users between June and July to upgrade security. It is not clear when contact was first made between the Marine and the Onslow County girls on the site.

Users under 18 must now sign in through Facebook Connect, in order to more accurately gauge the person's age. An account holder under the age of 18 no longer has their exact location pinpointed on Skout's interface. Algorithms monitor inappropriate or suspicious behavior, and violators are kicked off the site after one strike.

Chan said device tracking technology recognizes violators who log onto the site with a different user name after being kicked off.

The 13-year-old Onslow County victim said at her home Thursday afternoon that she is fine after the incident. Her 11-year-old cousin is still dealing with the trauma.

For now, the victims' family says the two girls are off Skout, and are waiting for justice to take its course.