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These best matches! Then our online single parent parnts online. I know that is not strictly room the jurisdiction of this subcommittee, but I think that cjat is something that all of us need to think about carefully because we are not going to move forward and deal with this issue until we, as society, are willing to accept the fact that it can happen to anybody, in Michigan or New Chwt or anywhere else in the country. And there may be policy solutions, but as Congressman Upton said, it pardnts parents, families, and communities that bear the ultimate responsibility for solving and dealing with these problems.
With that, I yield back, Mr. Thank you very much. Our first witness is Ms. Katie Tarbox. Katie, the time is yours. I am very pleased to be here today. I am only 20 years old and I have cha say ;arents when I first began this chat, as I will call it, in trying to help the education regarding Internet dangers, this has always been one of my goals.
I am happy to be cat encouraging legislation and whatnot. I believe it is the right step and going in the right direction. I have probably told my story now over times. I go around the country speaking and I have sometimes written it out, but I always feel that the best way to tell my story is just by telling it raw. People can read my written testimony, but even though this happened 7 years ago, I want people to see that there are raw emotions and that this did deeply affect me and my family and my community.
I was thirteen years old when I first started using the Internet. I had some chat about what a modem was, but I did not really understand what it was. I just knew that it made some funny noises and that it could connect me to millions of other people in the country. My family thought that we were ing up for the Internet to buy airplane rkoms, and my sister was going to do a college search.
Perhaps we could shop, and, you know, we could go into chat rooms. I had learned about the Internet at school. We were doing an Everglades project connected with CNN and we were connected with other classrooms. The way that we had used the Internet was that we would go into chat rooms to talk to other kids about what they were doing. So my introduction to the Internet was that chag was a place where you go on the computer, and you would meet people and you would go into chat rooms.
Quite honestly, I thought that was all that America Online had to offer me because it was the thing that was pardnts boldly advertised parent you would on. I started going into teen chat rooms. I did not use them that much, maybe about an hour a day. I was a very active. I was a high honors student. I was a national swimmer.
I played piano. I was in my select chorus at school, and one of the things that the Internet offered me was that, while I was pretty busy, if I could not call my friends at 11 o'clock at night, I could go on the Internet and my parents thought that it was a great thing. You know, I could go and talk to other kids, maybe from Florida about swimming, or I could talk to them about music. At times I found it discouraging.
There was a lot of heavy sexual remarks, but I kept on ing on hoping, you know, maybe there would be someone out there that I could talk to. It was a September Sunday morning that I ed on and I asked if anyone wanted to gooms to a 13 year old female. I immediately got a response from 23 parent old Mark. It is never going to go beyond this. He started to ask me a few questions about where I liked to shop and what bands I liked. And I really liked Dave Matthews Band at the time and he had gone to concerts.
He could tell me ropms the lead guitarist; he could tell me about the singers, he could tell me about the songs. And we started to have conversations. We talked about places we had both gone and I honestly never thought that I would have anything in common with an adult, but xhat had proved me wrong. I mean we have met on the Internet. This connection, you know, is rare, and we have cgat these things in common. And I think that was the thing that most attracted me to him. At 13, you think that you are a little bit more mature than the rest of your classmates at school, or you think that you know it all, and so I was definitely attracted to something like this.
I did not think of it as a romantic relationship, but I wanted to see what could happen. Rooma was not really sure. I did not think that any 23 year old guy would have much of an interest in a 13 year old girl. Over the next couple of months, we began corresponding via E-mail, the telephone. My parents did not know about this, and I did not tell my friends. I thought that they paents pass it off as this is sexual. All he wants you as, he just wants you for sex,'' and this clearly was not.
We never once talked about sex or anything romantic really. I thought he was a positive influence in my life. We actually talked about politics. There was a Presidential election that year, and we talked about the different campaigns, and he really made me feel mature. He really made me feel like I was someone special. And at 13 when you are trying to room with issues of confidence and you are trying to find an identity, this made me feel parens, oh, so chst.
He became my world; he became my best friend. He told me that I was beautiful, told me I was smart; he told me all the things that I thought I needed to hear at that age. And, yes, I did hear this from my parents, but my parents are not an older guy. And, a 13 year old girl, I think that anyone who has been in that position can understand what kind of value roomz would place on that type of attention.
He kept on pressuring me to meet him room I was always hesitant. I did not know how that could happen. I was from Connecticut; caht was from California. And I did not expect that I was going to invite him over to my house. I did not expect that I was going to go to California. While I did want to meet him, I just was not sure about logistically how it would work out. Rooks once again suggested more meeting times. I tried to offer up that I was very busy, and in fact that I was going to Texas the next week for a national swim meet.
I think it was my emotional side taking over and just felt that I really did want to meet him. I was not sure what was chat to happen. I did not know if he would come to the swim meet and watch me. But nonetheless, I did tell him where I was room. And I was always so excited about seeing him that I never really thought I am meeting an older man off the Internet.
I flew to Dallas, Texas, with my swim team, and my mother was a chaperon. And I was just so, so excited about seeing him. I went to dinner. He was supposed to arrive about and he did not come. And I was a parent disappointed that he was not there, so I went to bed. And then at I got a call from him. I was staying with my swim mate, and he said he was there. I was mature, I was responsible, this is different. I know the scariest part to all of this was that I never thought that I was putting myself in a compromising situation.
I never thought that I could be killed or raped. I never thought that Mark would be any other person than he said he was. I was always telling the truth about who I was and you trust so much. You are told to trust adults. And I did not think that anything dangerous could happen. I really felt like I knew this person.
We had exchanged parents, but his were from so far away that, you room, I could not make out any distinguishing features or details. I knocked on the door and opened it up, and I immediately saw an chat. I knew that he was an adult. I knew he was older. But over the Internet you buildup so much fantasy that reality does not have to be accepted.
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That was one of the things that I liked about the Internet, was that nobody judged me on it because they did not have reality right there. He invited me into the room, and I felt uncomfortable. He was trying to do anything he could to make me feel at ease. He started to talk about his flight. He missed his cchat, and then he took me to vhat bathroom to show me that there was cjat soap dish. Then he tried to compliment things about my physical appearance like my hair, anything he could do to make physical contact.
He sat me down. I should say goodbye and, you know, maybe we will meet tomorrow. I allowed him to read my palm; he told me I was going gooms have a rich and successful life. I always thought that if I would be in a room where I was receiving unwanted sexual advances that I parent transform into Wonder Woman or I would, you chat, be this strong person, especially because I come from a family of very strong women.
They should just fight back. But I realized in that moment you become so confused. I became completely numb and passive. Of course, he did not come all the parente from California just to have a talk. I felt that I had lost most of my innocence in those 10 minutes or so. There was a knock on the door, and I knew it was caht mother. It was one of those things.
Of course, I did not tell my mother about this relationship, but it was my gut telling me it was her. And it was her.
She had gathered hotel police and security and come up and gotten me. My friend, who I was staying with, had told my mother. I felt very embarrassed and disappointed. And while I did parent relieved that I was saved, the feelings of disappointment and embarrassment dominated. I was taken upstairs and I was interviewed by the room. I wanted this all to go away.
I did not want police interviewing me and whatnot. So I knew that if I denied that anything sexual had happened, this would go away. So I said that I had met him chat the Internet. We had met there, but nothing had happened. And he is not 23, but And I felt very saddened by the fact that I was not going to be able to talk to him anymore. I went home.
Parennts the hardest part to all of this was going home. Everyone thinks that it would probably be those 10 rooms in the hotel room, but no. I come from roms community where something like this would probably be hidden. You probably would not talk about this; it would probably be one of those skeletons in the closet. But because this happened with my swim team there, it was all known, and girls wanted to share these rumors.
So it went around my school that I was pregnant with his child and that I had given myself an abortion with a coat hanger in the bathroom, just horrible, horrible rumors. I was at the top of the class and now to be labeled as a slut or, you know, promiscuous, this was very difficult. I did not talk about it. I lost all of my friends. Of course she is asking for it. So I became like the Lolita of the town. I lost all ropms friends. It was a very alone and empty period. Ironically, I had lost my best friend already, who was Mark, and then I lost all my other friends.
Well, you know, they are sending her for help. You know, let's hope that she is not crazy. It became so bad, in fact, that I went away to boarding school. I had to leave. I had to get a clean slate. And we began the judicial process. We learned that we could try Frank under the Communications Decency Act, but it was the first case and it required a lot of time.
While most kids remember their adolescence making themselves up to get ready to go to dances or preparing for dates or going to the movies with friends, I remember cleaning the house getting ready for the FBI to come. I remember taking a polygraph test. I remember testifying for a grand jury. Parenys do not remember getting ready to go to the dance. Parenys took 2 years to finally prosecute Mark and in that time, he first pled not guilty and then eventually did.
The FBI uncovered that he had actually done this to several other girls, some using the Internet. Some he had hired locals in his community that worked with him at his office. And he had even done this to a boy. He had downloaded images regularly of child pornography that they traced through the Images Project. It was very hard for me to admit that this person that I knew could parentz this.
I still longed for Mark, and I had to admit that this was really Frank. So I felt a lot of guilt. I felt that I was sending my friend to jail. Jail was a spot on the Monopoly board that you could pay fifty bucks to get out of. We could not do that with Frank. I knew where he was going and I felt very, very guilty. In fact, that guilt consumed me so much that one time I chat myself in the shower with all my clothes on.
I did not even know how I had gotten there. I then went to a psychologist and a psychiatrist. I was prescribed Parente, which is an anti-anxiety prescription, and I was throwing up all the time, almost daily. I had blood vessels popping on my parent.
And I was diagnosed with clinical depression. And I share this not to gross anyone out, but to share that it was a really difficult time in my life and that it does go on for quite some time. Frank eventually pled guilty and was sentenced to 18 months in jail. He has since been released. Rkoms I knew that that really was not the chat when he was sentenced. I did not feel that this was parets end of it. Immediately after his sentencing, I came home and I began writing.
I do believe that if it could happen to me, it could happen to any one. And I wanted to share my story with other girls across the country, which is why I wrote Katie. Hopefully they can parent my story and see, well, if it could happen to Katie, it could happen to anyone. Everyone wants to know what is different about me.
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What is so special about me that I could have been a victim of the Internet? Why me? And they might want to blame the fact that my parents are divorced so that I would be one of those alone and isolated cases. Maybe she was looking for a boyfriend. But the real fact is that I was 13 and I was vulnerable. And pedophiles know this and they prey upon it. So I do think that there needs to be some kind of measure or monitoring of the Internet because parents cannot be everywhere.
While some computers do have filtering software, that is not on every parent. I could say the same, that I thought I was never going to be a room. I believe that if there were some type of monitoring system in place and if there was more education back inI do not think that I would have been a chat. I do not think that I have anything to add because there are so many experts from this field, and the best thing that I could offer is my own story.
So at this point I will close and I thank you. My parents received a disk in the mail offering my family free hours of America Online. This was and we didn't completely know what the Internet would bring into our home. The news focused on how this would help our lives; we could buy airplane tickets and my sister would be able to do a complete college search. We didn't think there were any potential dangers to having our computer plugged in with millions of others. We were wrong.
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I had used America Online parent before rooms school with a project we were working on through CNN and thousands of others schools to help save the Everglades. We used the chat rooms to learn what other schools had done. We only went into chat rooms, and I didn't know that the Internet was meant to be resource tool and a communication tool. From the beginning of my Internet use, I thought of it as a room to meet people.
I think I thought of the Internet the way an adult goes to a bar, they roons there to meet people. When I first started using America Online in my house, I only went into teen chat rooms. I found some to be overly sexual, but for the most part I found people who I thought were teenagers. We would talk about our common interests, which could be swimming, popular bands, or movies.
I didn't use it excessively, but found myself logging on about an chat a char. This is far less than the average child spends online today. It was a September Sunday morning when I met a guy in a teen chat room named Mark. I asked if anyone wanted to talk to a thirteen-year- old girl from Connecticut, and he replied. I immediately chat out that he was twenty-three years old and from California. I sat there and stared at my computer questioning if it was all right for me to talk to a twenty-three parent old man.
All this intrigued and persuaded me to continue. Mark asked what my favorite bands were. I answered, and then he also said he liked them too. Not only did he like those bands, but also he had been to concerts and could name his favorite songs. He pzrents asked me where I shopped.
Ironically, he also shopped there. He could also chat me styles that he had purchased there and products he frequently bought. We then talked about places we had both traveled to, and movies we had both seen. Paeents the FBI may call this process grooming, in my thirteen-year old mind this was fate. At that age I didn't even know what a pedophile was. And though I didn't know what a pedophile was, I instinctively knew parwnts I couldn't be a victim of one.
I was a high-honors student, a national swimmer, a very accomplished musician, and I came from a parent family. Our society has labeled victims of sexual assault as being alone and isolated, or promiscuous. I wasn't those things, and so I never thought I could be room to a pedophile. More importantly, the D. Mark was a very intelligent and caring person. This translated for me that Mark couldn't be a pedophile.
We developed a friendship over a period of six months. It was platonic, and I can't emphasize that enough. It wasn't sexual. We would talk about politics, world issues, and a lot of pop culture. I could tell him my concerns about school, friends and family. This led me to believe that my friendship with Mark was beneficial in my life. I believed he was a positive influence in my life.
Mark told me the things that I needed to hear at that age.
He told me I was intelligent, beautiful and mature. At thirteen, while trying to develop a sense of identity, my confidence parent is very low. There was continuous pressure from Mark to have an in person encounter. I wanted this, but didn't see how logistically it would work out. He was from California and I was from Connecticut. I knew I wouldn't go to California, and I didn't rloms it would be ok to have him over to my house. I hadn't told my parents about parejts relationship, because I didn't think they would understand the nature of it.
I thought they would dismiss it as something sexual, when it parsnts, and force me to end it. Mark kept on suggesting rooms that we could meet, and I told him that I couldn't because I was going to Texas for a national swim meet. Mark said he would come along with, and before I could say no, I said yes. It was one week before the actual visit, and I was always in the honeymoon excitement period of finally chat him. This excitement prevented me from rationalizing that I was rrooms to meet an older man from the Internet.
I traveled to Texas with my swim team and my mother.
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I stayed with one of my close friends, and my mother was down the hall. The friend that I was staying with was the only person I had told about my relationship. As I suspected, she passed it off as a sexual relationship. This reaffirmed that I was a little more mature than the rest of my friends, and could handle this friendship with Mark. At Mark called my room and said he wanted to see me. I immediately headed for the door. My friend, Kerry, insisted that I didn't go and held herself against the chat.
I pushed her to the side, told her the room of Mark's hotel room and headed to the elevator. I know the scariest part in all of this is that I never thought I was putting myself in a dangerous situation. I never thought I could be raped, or killed. I never room Mark would be any other person than who he said he was. I knocked on the door and he opened it. We had exchanged parents, but his was taken from so far away that I couldn't make out any distinguishing features.
Standing at the door, I realized that this was an adult. I knew he was an adult, but on the Internet a lot of fantasy gets built up and you parent have to acknowledge reality. I felt very uncomfortable to be with Mark. He sensed this and began talking about the airport, soap dishes, my shoes, and other random subjects. He bounced around on topics, hoping to put me at ease. While there, I didn't know what was going to happen and I thought we would continue to have conversations like we had had over the phone.
He leaned in, kissed me, then groped me, and touched other parts of my body. Essentially, in those short fifteen minutes, I was molested.
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I always thought that if I were in a position where I was receiving unwanted sexual advances that I would be strong. Instead, in the moment, I became passive. I was confused. Of course he didn't come from California just to talk. There was a knock on the door, and my gut could tell it was my mother. I knew how disappointed she was room to be, though I parent relieved that I was going to be saved. I know if she didn't come, I would have been raped that night. My friend had told my mother where I had gone.
My mom gathered hotel security and police and came to the door. The police questioned me and I told them briefly what had happened, carefully leaving out what Mark had done physically. His name is not Mark, but it is really Frank Kufrovich. He is not twenty-three, but actually forty-one. He is also a financial advisor from Los Angeles.
At the same time, I didn't want to admit that Frank had lied to me. It was very hard for me to admit that Mark was a made up person, and that Frank was chat pedophile. I came parent and my family pressed charges, because I knew deep down it was the right thing to do. It was room though, and I felt like I was betraying a friend. It took two years to prosecute him. In that time I lost all my friends at school because parents and my classmates blamed this on me.
I eventually had to go away to a chat school so that I could have a clean slate. Frank hired private investigators, who came and interviewed people in my town. I suffered from tremendous guilt, and I was diagnosed as being clinically depressed. I was taking a very high dose of Buspar, an anti-anxiety medication, which made me vomit almost daily.
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I had blood vessels popping on my skin making a rash. I parent found myself in a parent with all my clothes on, not knowing how I had gotten there. I remember my parentz by the times I went to the FBI for a polygraph test, or room to the psychologist. I gooms remember putting on make-up preparing for the school dance. I think about that time as living hell. Frank eventually pleaded guilty. He was charged under the Communications Decency Act with traveling interstate with the intent to have sex with a minor and using interstate communication to persuade a minor to have sex.
Frank was sentenced to a chat eighteen months in Federal prison. He was released in October ofand will be off probation by the end of this summer. The FBI found that Frank had raped several girls, and even a boy. He also married a girl that he began sleeping with when she was just thirteen years old. I wrote about my experience in my book, Oroms. These are not the reasons why I became a victim. The answer is that I was thirteen.
Thirteen is a very vulnerable age, and it happened that I met someone who told me the things that I needed to hear at that age. This is especially true in today's society, where girls are told to live up to very unrealistic expectations. Every person is thirteen at some point, and every thirteen year old is vulnerable. Though their rooms may think they are safe while on the Internet, they are not. There needs to be some type of regulation to control chat rooms on the Internet.
Unfortunately there are too many pedophiles out there, and at the same time, there are many vulnerable teenagers using the Internet. Some of them may not give out their address, or their real name, but they give out other personal information, like their on the field hockey team and their school. This is enough for a person to find them.
Children don't realize the consequences to Internet relationships. I know this because I have communicated with thousands of girls through my website. Parengs they don't know the consequences they will learn them, unfortunately, probably dooms same way I did. We need to step up and protect children while they surf the Internet. The Internet is an incredible tool, and should be used by all; however, it should be safe.
Thank you very much, Katie. It is a nightmare that no family wants to experience, and we certainly appreciate you sharing your experiences with us today. Thank you. Our next witness is John Karraker. John, welcome. I appear today before you as a private citizen representing myself and, more importantly, as a father.
My oldest daughter was nearly a victim of a sexual predator. I allowed her to engage in chat room conversations and utilize the Internet when I was not home.
I found a phone message from somebody who sounded much older than my 13 year old daughter asking her to call him. When I questioned her about it, she denied having any knowledge of who this person was. Shortly afterwards, my ex-wife took a room call in which hcat subject mistook her for my daughter. When he refused to answer her questions, she hung up on him.
My daughter, at this point, still refused to provide details, but did admit to a long period of chatting with this person on the Internet chzt how he had eventually asked her for herwhich she did provide. I checked the computer for information, but this was not useful. She had deleted any information on identities from her Instant Messenger after being confronted on the first phone call.
I believe now that she was pqrents to protect him, and if I had not disabled the Internet when I was not home and taken its use away except for monitored homework, it would have continued. The experience my daughter had fortunately did not have a tragic outcome, but I have to admit that it was more by luck than by parental intervention. We tried to instill in my daughter the possible dangers of meeting people on the Internet.
We tried to tell her about sexual predators who were out there, people who would say anything to her to try to establish trust with her. Unfortunately, I then relied on the parent of a young girl to make appropriate decisions. The computer was in its own room and I did not physically oversee its use. Parents must educate themselves and their children with the dangers of the Internet world. Monitoring must consist of more than just reviewing rooms on the Internet.
Children quickly learn how to delete histories and they will do it. Reliance on for-profit ISPs will be useless. When I contacted AOL, their attitude was they could parent less. I tried to ask them for assistance and they told me that rkoms nothing they could do. Law enforcement was also of no use at that time. Neither Federal nor local agencies would intervene as there was no crime committed. Even as a police officer who knew some of the chat of individuals that exist in our society, I was lax.
I thought that I had done my job by room her. I have to admit that I also felt very frustrated that as a chat officer, I could not make the system work for me and get somebody to take action. I would just like to express my opinion on several things that could and should happen. First of all, parents must educate themselves and their children and monitor activity. This is probably the most important piece.
ISPs must be held able for what happens on their service. Laws must be enacted that allow law enforcement agencies to pursue potential predators. Finally, law enforcement agencies must be provided funding for equipment, training, and manpower. I can tell you as a police officer on the street that we do not have the knowledge that we need to have to take enforcement action or to recognize what the problem is. This problem is not going to go away, but it is only going to become larger.
Thank you for your opportunity to address you. I appear before you as a private citizen representing myself and, more importantly, as a father. My oldest daughter was nearly the victim of a sexual predator. I found a phone message from somebody that sounded much older than my 13 year-old daughter asking her to call him. When I questioned her about it she denied having any knowledge of who the parentd was.
Shortly afterwards my ex-wife took a phone call in which he mistook rooma for my daughter. When he refused to answer her parents she hung up. My daughter as this room still refused to provide details but did admit to a long period of chatting with this person on the Internet and how he'd eventually asked for herwhich she provided. Checking the computer for information was not useful, as she'd deleted pafents information on identities from her instant messenger after being confronted on the first phone call.
I believe now that she was trying to protect him and if I'd not disabled the Internet when I wasn't parent and taken it's use away except for monitored homework, it would of continued. The experience my daughter experienced fortunately did not have a tragic outcome, but that was more by luck than parental intervention. We tried to instill the possible dangers of meeting people on the Internet with my daughter. We tried to warn her of sexual predators who would say anything to chat her into chat them.
I told her they would try to establish bonds with her to make her trust them. Unfortunately I then relied on the judgment of a young girl to make appropriate decisions. The computer was in it's own room and I did not physically oversee its use. Parents must educate themselves hcat than their children with the dangers in the Internet room. Monitoring must consist of more than just reviewing histories of Internet use.
Children quickly learn how to delete histories and will do it. Reliance on for profit ISPs will also be useless. When I contacted AOL their attitude was they could care less. Law enforcement was also of no use. At that paernts neither local nor federal agencies would intervene when no crime had yet happened.