A Carroll County Sheriff’s Office detective assisted the FBI in the indictment of a man accused of requesting sexually explicit photos of a Carroll County pre-teen through the gaming app Roblox.
Carroll County Sheriff Jim DeWees shared the news release from the Department of Justice’s Central District of California that John Mathew Piecuch, 61, of Hemet, California, was indicted by a grand jury in Riverside, California, for attempted enticement of a minor to engage in criminal sexual activity, production of child pornography and receipt of child pornography.
“I’m very proud of my deputies for pursuing this case in conjunction with the FBI,” DeWees said on his Facebook page. “Parents beware and always be proactive with your child’s social media presence.”
Carroll County Advocacy and Investigation Center Detective Jill Moore, the FBI and Maryland’s Internet Crimes Against Children assisted in the case. Moore, the sheriff’s office’s Facebook post states, advocated for the pre-teen victim in Carroll “who was targeted by a predator, requesting sexually explicit photos of the child and sibling,” after meeting through the gaming app Roblox.
Roblox is an online game that lets users create, share an interact with friends in a virtual 3D universe.
The Department of Justice’s news release stated Piecuch posed as a 13-year-old boy on the game where he met the 12-year-old Carroll resident in late 2020. The conversation between the two moved to text messaging when Piecuch requested sexually explicit photos of the preteen, who also sent sexually explicit phots of a 5-year-old relative.
According to the sheriff’s office, the app does not allow personal images or a series of numbers to be exchanged.
“In this case, the predator worked around this feature and asked the child to spell out her phone number alphabetically, in order to begin text messaging, therefore allowing the exchange of images,” Moore said in the Facebook post.
The mother of the 12-year-old saw the messages on her daughter’s phone and contacted authorities. Piecuch was arrested Aug. 4 and sent to jail without bond. He is scheduled to be arraigned Aug. 24 and faces a maximum sentence of life in federal prison.
The sheriff’s office said it was Moore who identified “the suspect to be a resident of California,” outside her jurisdiction, which is why she contacted the FBI the same day she interviewed the victim’s family.
“This case emphasizes the need for parental control of all devices,” she said in the post.
Moore added that although the app seems harmless for kids, any app capable of chatting with others is “a danger to a child.” The best way to prevent this type of incident, she continued, is for parents to educate themselves on the app before a child uses them.
The sheriff’ office linked to pages on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Carly Ryan Foundation websites for more information on online safety.
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Cpl. Jon Light, spokesperson for the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office, said law enforcement does not believe there are any additional victims in Carroll County.