Niagara Gazette

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September 16, 2008

TUESDAY: Man caught with underage girl (4:02 p.m.)

TOWN OF TONAWANDA — A 26-year-old Town of Tonawanda man found himself in a jail cell after allegedly using an Internet site and text messages to entice a 14-year-old girl into his car.

Richard A. Andres was charged with endangering the welfare of a child at 7 p.m. Monday after police found him parked with the girl in the area around Lincoln Park, according to police reports.

Police located his car after being given a description by the girl’s family and proceeded to question Andres. He told police the girl was his “new friend,” but denied knowing her name or where he picked her up. The girl initially told police she was 21, but when another officer arrived on the scene with a photograph to positively identify her, she told them her real age.

The girl also told police that the conversation inside the car quickly turned to sex, and that Andres has touched her waistline and tried to remove her pants, according to reports.

Andres and the girl communicated through text messages after meeting on an on-line profile Web site similar to MySpace. While the girl’s age left her more vulnerable to persuasion, youths aren’t the only ones who should be wary of meeting people on-line, said Lt. Nick Bado.

“I’ve been involved in cases where it was two consenting adults who met on the net, hardly know each other and end up spending the weekend together,” Bado said. “Then that ends with someone reporting a rape or sexual assault. It’s a dangerous activity trusting your personal safety with someone you don’t know.”

Town police work with the school district to give presentations on the pitfalls of on-line information sharing and the hazards of meeting people who can paint any picture of themselves they want with a mouse and keyboard. But for younger teens especially, there’s a sense of being smarter and tougher than the world, said Detective Lt. Bill Miller, with the town’s family offense unit and juvenile bureau.

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