The Pueblo County Sheriff's Office arrested a Pueblo West man last week on suspicion of sexually assaulting an underage girl he met online last April.
Jim Major, Jr., 19, faces felony charges of child sexual assault, child enticement and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He was arrested last Wednesday. Prosecutors said the delay in the arrest was to give them enough time to build a strong case against Major.
The case was investigated by the county's Internet Crimes Against Children unit, with help from the FBI and the Riverside County, Calif., District Attorney's Office.
Investigators provided the following details:
Major and the girl met on Facebook in 2011 when he was 18 and she was 12. They began a year-long online friendship. Her parents tried to end the relationship when they thought Major was 21.
In April 2012, investigators said, the girl's parents reported her missing a day before receiving a tip from the National Center For Missing And Exploited Children. The tip stated that a 13-year-old California girl may have been traveling to meet someone in Pueblo,
Investigators learned the girl had taken money from her parents' bank account and bought a plane ticket to Denver, where Major picked her up and hid her in a basement bedroom at his mother's Pueblo West home. Authorities found the two a day later.
Major and the girl were cooperative, investigators said. She was sent back to her parents in California. Investigators said Major likely didn't know the girl's true age until they met in person and he sexually assaulted her.
The girl lied about her age to get her Facebook account, investigators said.
Lisa Shorter, a spokeswoman for the sheriff's office, said most similar cases involving an older and younger teen aren't reported because families tend to overlook them. Shorter also said most parents don't have computer filters that would protect teens from online sexual advances.
Shorter said families should have serious discussions about Internet predators, and should know who their kids chat with online. Teens themselves can help, she said, by not lying about their ages and by not secretly traveling to meet online strangers.