TOLEDO, Ohio — A Michigan man is behind bars after police say he tried to solicit a teenage girl for sex. That girl was actually an undercover police officer.
According to the criminal complaint, Chandos Bemus, 30, of Brownstown did knowingly solicit online an undercover police officer posing as a 14-year-old female to engage in sexual activity.
Bemus arranged to meet the undercover officer at a Quality Inn Hotel in Toledo on Oct. 1, but when he knocked on the hotel room door, he was arrested.
He is facing three charges, including importuning telecommunication device engaging sexual activity; victim 13, 14, or 15, disseminating material harmful to minors and attempt to commit an offense.
Bemus' case is a reminder that predators can be a very real concern, especially when youth of all ages are connected to the internet through social media on computers and readily-available phones.
Dr. Celia Williamson, the Executive Director of the University of Toledo's Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute, says you can put parental controls to monitor your child's computer-use and social media but it's not a fail-safe option.
Parents need to be a "hybrid" parent, one who is a friend and a mentor, so children can tell them what they may consider unpleasant information.
"The best thing to do is to understand your child's vulnerabilities. The best thing to do is communicate with your child and teach them how to protect themselves, how to be cautious online and be cautiously optimistic about new friends they meet and how to open up the lines of communication with you," Williamson said. "You need to be able to hear scary things to be able to properly guide your child."
Otherwise, children may shut down and not open up about concerning things in their life.
Williamson added that predators are looking for young people who reveal their insecurities or vulnerabilities online. Predators then try to build a bond or relationship with that young person to gain their trust.