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Online predator sentenced; Christkindl Markt expanding downtown | #childpredator | #onlinepredator | #sextrafficing

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – I had a serious conversation with a relative about how much to restrict access to social media to kids in our family to keep them safe.

There was a concerning incident involving a 13-year-old girl in the family who had been communicating with a guy from Europe on social media.

Reviewing their chat history with the teen’s mom, my relative said he claimed to be her age and chatted her up about similar interests before red flag requests suggested he was a predator grooming her. I am leery of younger children having internet and social media use without intense parental monitoring because of online dangers.

Reporter John Agar told us this week about an Illinois man sentenced to 17½ years in prison for sexually exploiting a child by U.S. District Judge Janet Neff in Grand Rapids. Eduardo Torres, 26, drove to West Michigan to sexually assault a 12-year-old he met online.

John also shared with readers the video Michigan State Police released of the trooper who struck and killed Samuel Sterling, 25, in his unmarked patrol car on April 17. He later told us how Sterling’s parents felt when they saw the video after his interview.

Lead Reporter Audra Gamble told readers about new safety towers at Grand Haven State Park aimed at keeping swimmers safer this summer. The towers by SwimSmart will be unveiled at a ceremony Monday. Audra also shared that the popular Christkindl Markt is returning to the Downtown Market and expanding.

Reporter Bradley Massman shared another sad story about the torture of a teen. William Arthur Williams was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison on torture and first-degree child abuse charges. He and Wilma Edwards would tie the 13-year-old girl – Edwards’ daughter – to her bed each night using ratchet straps to prevent her from getting out of bed among other abuse.

Mallory Burt, our reporting intern from Grand Valley State University, told readers about the commemorative street sign designation to honor the late Sekou Smith, a Grand Rapids native and longtime National Basketball Association writer and TV analyst. Smith, 48, died of COVID in 2021.

The Grand Rapids City Commission approved designating the block Smith grew up on – Auburn Avenue SE from Lake Drive to Wealthy Street – as Sekou Smith Way.

That’s what caught our eye in the Grand Rapids area this week. Take a look at those headlines, and others, below.

State police release video of trooper crashing into suspect, killing him

Visitation today for Earl Holton, former Meijer leader who had ‘huge impact’ on company

Illinois man traveled to Michigan to sexually assault girl, 12, he met online

‘He murdered my son:’ Family of man killed by police vehicle sees video for first time

Southwest Airlines nonstop flight to Las Vegas added at Ford airport

Board chair: Proposal for 60% Ottawa County commissioners pay raise not valid

New safety towers in Grand Haven to help prevent drownings in the deadliest Great Lake

4 things to know about tax-incentive for 735 apartments by amphitheater, soccer stadium

Grand Rapids Christkindl Markt nearly doubling for ‘bigger and better’ 2024 event

Man sentenced to prison for his role in torturing girlfriend’s daughter

‘His name needs to be recorded’: NBA journalist imprinted on Grand Rapids street

Will housing near new Grand Rapids amphitheater, soccer stadium be affordable?

About Hello, Grand Rapids: Each week, we deliver the big headlines straight to your inbox. Sign up for the newsletter here. Monica Scott is the editor for MLive/The Grand Rapids Press, who previously was a reporter who covered the city, county and schools in the community.

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