29-year-old man met 12-year-old on popular app and assaulted him, Volusia County sheriff says

deltona, florida – A Cocoa Beach man is in jail after investigators say he used an app to meet and have sex with a 12-year-old girl twice. The sheriff said the man pretended to be a teenager using the popular Wink app.

The Volusia County Sheriff’s Deputy arrested Brandon Donato, 29, on Saturday night after he drove to Deltona to reunite with the girl. He has been charged with multiple child sex charges and is being held on $350,000 bail.

Body-worn camera footage shows several sheriff’s deputies escorting him outside the preteen’s home.

Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said: “I pray to God that my son rots in his cell because of what he did.” A person accused of a crime is innocent until proven guilty.

Chitwood said the man pretended to be 17 and a license plate reader revealed he had visited the 12-year-old boy twice before he was arrested. The conversation also sparked an Instagram message. The sheriff said a family member found him and alerted authorities, who said an investigation had begun.

An undercover agent then disguised himself as a child and prepared an arrest.

“These scumbags are adults, they know exactly what they’re doing, and they prey on young people and vulnerable people,” Chitwood said. “[They do this] To make them feel like they are someone, like they are, and like they know exactly what they are doing. ”

News4JAX I-TEAM took a look at the Wink app, which is said to be “the best place to make new friends and more”.

Critics have called it a “tinder for teens.”

WJXT intern Caitlin downloaded it on Monday, signed up within a minute, and quickly swiped through potential connections.

I asked her age and date of birth, but did not independently verify the information.

“No identification, no real authentication,” she said.

When Caitlin tried to enter her young age, another app called Soda appeared. This app provides the user live his random his chat with an avatar that hides his identity.

Wink’s website says:: “User safety is one of our top priorities,” admitting, “Adults can pretend to be young and set up fake profiles to connect with children. You may try to talk to them or meet them in person.We have a zero tolerance policy on sexual exploitation.Any incident may be investigated and reported to law enforcement. .”

“I think it’s incredibly easy to access, especially when parents aren’t supervising their kids, and keep the conversation going with them,” said FBI Jacksonville spokeswoman Amanda Warford-Biddell. said.

He said parents should pay close attention to their children’s online activities, regardless of the app.

“I think a lot of youth trafficking starts like this,” she says. “You will see young people reach out to make connections online, and they may eventually run away from meeting people in some cases. It leads to buying and selling issues.”

Conversation is important.

Other resources:

List of the most popular social media and networking apps used by children

FBI fact sheet on online child protection

Preventing sexual abuse with Child Lure Prevention

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https://www.news4jax.com/news/local/2023/07/17/29-year-old-man-met-12-year-old-on-popular-app-assaulted-her-volusia-county-sheriff-says/ 29-year-old man met 12-year-old on popular app and assaulted him, Volusia County sheriff says

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