EUGENE, Ore. — A local father is sharing how his mission changed after he said an online predator tried to meet up with his 17-year-old daughter.
The “meet up” was supposed to happen at Washington Jefferson Park. But instead of violence, Jon-Michael Crafton said he chose to warn other parents and took to social media himself.
“Oh yeah, I was super upset. The message just said ‘hey,’ and I didn’t have to look too far into it until I started getting mad,” Crafton said.
Crafton looked up the man who had messaged his daughter, and what he found confirmed any father’s worst nightmare.
“I found another post where he’d been messaging another young girl, so I told her to continue to message him, and the messages got kind of wild,” Crafton said.
Crafton said he told his daughter to do this because he wanted to plan a meet-up.
“He wasn’t going to meet her; he was going to meet me,” Crafton said.
So, his daughter started responding, and things quickly escalated.
“He said, ‘you are 18, correct,’ and she says ‘no, I’m 17, is that going to be a problem?’ And he says, ‘oh no, it’s not a problem,'” Crafton said.
The man eventually asked her to meet up with him at Washington Jefferson Park.
“He’s grooming her, trying to tell her, ‘just get dropped off, don’t tell anybody you’re meeting me, and once you get there, I’ll walk down and get you,'” Crafton said.
Crafton said he was all ready to go confront him but had a change of heart.
“I was going to go and ruin his whole day, you know; I was going to show up there and do something to end up back in jail myself, you know. Can’t really protect my daughter from in jail,” Crafton said.
Crafton admitted he’s spent time behind bars, and taking the law into his own hands could send him back. So, instead, he told his daughter to block the man, then posted the messages on Facebook, warning other parents.
“You hear about predators all the time seeking younger kids, and you don’t think you’ll ever really have to experience it,” Crafton said.
Crafton said thankfully, he and his daughter have a close relationship, saying it’s built on trust.
“Keep your kids educated on situations like this; build your kid’s trust. It’s important that they trust you because they’ll come to you with things like this,” Crafton said.
Officials with the Eugene Police Department said parents should immediately call the police if you find your child in a situation like this.
They said they’re continuing to investigate online predators in the area aggressively and are working to hold each one accountable.
Police also said you should monitor your child’s devices and be aware of unexplained absences and behavior. And to consider not allowing them to take their phone or computer into their room at night.
Police said parents should check out the Federal Trade Commission for resources to teach children about online safety.