Altoona Man Charged with Indecent Assault

Altoona Man Charged with Indecent Assault

Police say the 26-year-old pretended to be a 16-year-old on Facebook to lure a minor.
ALTOONA – A 26-year-old Altoona man is facing multiple charges after police say he lied about his age online and trying to lure a minor.

According to the criminal complaint, Benjamin Richards, 26, pretended to be a 16-year-old on Facebook and asked a 12-year-old boy if they could meet to hang out in their underwear.

Police say the conversations went on for nearly three weeks.

Richards is facing charges of Unlawful Contact With a Minor and Indecent Assault, among other charges.

So how do you protect kids when hundreds of millions of people across the world have a Facebook account?
 
"Parents should know exactly who their children are speaking with on the internet, whether it be Facebook or Twitter or even on the Playstation game because of the internet access it has," said Sgt. Brian Freiwald, of the Altoona Police Department.
 
Sgt. Freiwald said you can be whoever you want on the internet nowadays, and it's just as important for kids to be aware of what they're getting into.
 
People we spoke to said they don't believe parents know everything that kids are doing on social media.
 
"I believe it happens much more than people are aware of,” said Wayne Wilson, of Patton. “I think it's an issue where there isn't parental supervision where there should be."
 
"Only talk to people that you know, that you've met prior to sitting down in front of a computer monitor or phone or tablet," said Sgt. Freiwald.
 
Freiwald did offer up some specifics, like parents sitting down with kids, and establishing acceptable sites, even setting time limits. 

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