Local News

Expert: Child Predator Numbers Aren't Rising

Posted September 20, 2006

— News headlines have been filled with reports of child predators. Some question whether that type of crime is on the rise or if law enforcement agencies are just better at catching the suspects.

Q&A With Forensic Psychologist

Robert Morris, 33, a former financial aid planner at Miller Motte Technical College, was arrested Wednesday on charges of sexual exploitation of a minor. Cary police said Morris ordered five child pornography tapes and had them delivered to the UPS Store on Walnut Street. Police arrested him when he came to pick up the tapes.

Earlier this week, former teacher Eric Grange was charged with molesting five girls at a Montessori school in Chapel Hill. Last month, former Chapel Hill High School teacher and Boy Scout leader David Jones was arrested for allegedly soliciting teenagers for sex over the Internet.

"Now, they've got the comfort of sitting in their home or a library and using that computer, and once they start using that computer, they start feeling comfortable. They start feeling like they are not going to get caught," said Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison.

Michael Teague is a forensic psychologist who treats sexual predators. According to his statistics, one in four girls and one out of 10 boys are victims of sexual abuse. He said there aren't more sexual offenders, but the public is hearing about them more.

"The prosecutors, the press, the police, everybody is doing such a better job these days," said Teague. "The bad news is they are out there. The good news is that we are catching them."

Harrison said social-engineering Web sites like MySpace make it easier for predators and harder for police.

"We train all the time," he said. "It's just like anything else in law enforcement. We try and stay ahead of that curve."

Harrison said agencies are working together more to solve crimes, like they did in the David Jones case. Wednesday's arrest of Morris was the result of a multiagency investigation involving the United States Postal Service, United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Cary police investigators.

Morris was released on a $150,000 bond. His first court appearance is scheduled for 9 a.m. Thursday.


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