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Man pleads guilty in MySpace indecent liberties case

Posted March 17, 2009

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— A Cary man will spend six months in jail and receive probation after he pleaded guilty Tuesday to taking indecent liberties with a 12-year-old Sanford boy he met on MySpace.

Dakota Walter Lee Melton, 22, was charged in August with one count of felony taking indecent liberties with children and one felony count of second-degree kidnapping in connection with the July 13 crime.

Dakota Melton Cary man pleads guilty to indecent liberties charge

He was sentenced to 40 to 56 months in jail for both charges, but the sentence is suspended in lieu of a six-month active sentence in the Wake County jail and 48 months of probation to be served in Culpeper County, Va., where Melton has been living with his sister.

"You will not see my client here again because he is absolutely terrified of going to prison," Melton's attorney, Pete Wood, told Judge Cressie Thigpen.

Wake County Assistant District Attorney Adam Moyers said in court that Melton met the boy, now 13, on MySpace, then arranged a face-to-face meeting and eventually took him back to his apartment, where the boy fell asleep on the couch.

Moyers said the boy told his parents that he was going to a friend's house but when he did not return home, the parents called the police and found information about Melton on MySpace.

According to search warrants, about an hour after the boy's mother called Melton's phone number, the boy returned home with a hickey on his neck.

Melton admitted that he and the boy kissed but said they did not have sex, Moyers said.

"Mr. Melton indicated he was unaware the victim was in fact 12-years-old," Moyers said. "He thought he was older, based upon his MySpace profile.

At the time of Melton's arrest, the boy's page listed him as 18 years old, but under state law, the responsibility lies with adults to know whether the person they are with is of the age of consent.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the boy's MySpace page has him listed as being 19 years old.

"I'm not going to try to minimize what happened or to try to rationalize it in any way. It's a horrible thing," Wood said. "My client realizes that. He's accepting full responsibility today."

Also under his plea, Melton must register as a sex offender, enroll in a sex-offender control program while in jail, undergo mental health counseling and pay $8,900 in restitution to the victim for counseling and $1,650 for his court-appointed attorney. He is also not allowed to have any unsupervised contact with minors.

Moyer said after court Tuesday that the case serves as a strong reminder about Internet safety.

"I don't believe that children have a right to privacy in their parents' home," Moyers said.

Despite improved security features designed to help protect children on social networking sites, Internet safety experts say much of the responsibility to protect children falls on parents because there will always be flaws.

"People don't realize or don't think when they're posting something on there that literally anybody can see it," said Jason Ice, a detective with the Cary Police Department's Cyber Crimes unit.

"We even go so far as to recommend, if possible, they have the passwords to these different accounts and they log on to these accounts on occasion," he said.

50 Comments

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  • Raliman Mar 18, 2009

    And just where was the Parents of this 10Y/O at the time this happen this is considered naglect. Also this guy has been in the news before and is on the list for a offender I thought there was many of these taken off myspace recently from NC.

  • Smart Alec Mar 17, 2009

    First, this guy is a dirty bird. That said, I never, ever thought I would hear of middle school age children behaving in such overtly sexual ways. I have a friend that is a middle school teacher and the things that she and co-workers have caught these kids DOING in school or texting/picture mailing one another is scary. Some of them have a very twisted idea of what is and is not appropriate, ask a kid if they think that certain oral behavior is sex and their answer might surprise you. My heart goes out to parents too because these kids are wanting more and more freedom in an increasingly precarious world. I also want to add, that this kid more than likely was wanting to explore an area of his sexuality that is not of the main stream (lets not be naive about that), unfortunately the outlets that availed themselves to him (internet, etc.) are fraught with truly genuine peril. This guy could have been Jeffrey Dahmer.

  • o6nnc Mar 17, 2009

    Juan..this kid may have been 12, but with the amount of steroids in our food these days he probably looks 25.
    basically, the kid lied... got caused trouble, and deserves punishment.
    this story reminds me of "girl who called rape" ... you know, where the man ends up taking the blame for two people's mistake.

    oh well,at least karma is a B.

  • Timbo Mar 17, 2009

    They'll bust him again, this time it will be worse.

  • JuanGrande v3.0 Mar 17, 2009

    How can any of you defend a 22 year old man "making out" with a 12 year old boy. It doesn't matter if the kid's Myspace account says he's 18. Are you telling me you can tell the difference between a 12 year old and an 18 year old?

  • o6nnc Mar 17, 2009

    sounds like the boy, now 13, needs to get rid of his fake myspace account... in the least he is violating the user agreement.
    and the 8k in restitution is an absolute joke. i honestly feel bad for this man being screwed over by this child and the justice system

  • jlh4jdj Mar 17, 2009

    I am not saying this guy is not guilty. I do say that the problem with the law is that there is no reason to it. All that this guy is found guilty of is kissing a boy and letting him stay there. I had a great aunt that if you didn't dodge her at Christmas parties she would lay quite a few kisses on (just saying you can get passed it). The guy needs to be punished but, some on here needs to get their heads back on planet earth. I still say if this guy had been found guilty of many worse things he would face much less. Like having to register when he gets out. I care more where the murders and drug dealers are near me. But, they don't have to register and we don't have a website for them because its not the PC rage right now.

  • See Chart Mar 17, 2009

    A 12 year old going away with a stranger and his parents did
    not know it? ,I guess he had no cell phone which is rare these days.
    In any event this nut got off easy and will probably do it again.
    and the victim sounds like he needs some mental help himself.
    At least folks know how this guy looks like now from his photo.
    I don't like myspace or facebook for kids to reveal their selves.
    But I am in the minority of thought in this digital stayintouch age.

  • exwife1956 Mar 17, 2009

    The parents of the 12 year old boy should have monitored what he was doing on the computer and should have known what kind of friends he was hanging out with.

  • rand321 Mar 17, 2009

    The 12 yo could be tried on a felony if he committed something similair, sent naked pictures of someone or received them, murder rape, etc.

    We have not problems with trying someone under 18 as an adult for capital cases under the guise they are not innocent and should have known better the results their actions would cause.

    We want to punish those under 18 when their offenses cause duress among the good citizens, but then we rush out to help them when we feel their victimized. I think someone under 18 is not knowledgable enough to know better, nor shoudl they be tried for capital cases and sent to adult prisons or sentenced to death.

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