Girl Barely Saved from Alleged Sex Predator - Tri-State News, Weather & Sports

Girl Barely Saved from Alleged Sex Predator

Reporter: Kim Dacey
New Media Producer: Rachel Chambliss

Kentucky State Police troopers say it was a close call Tuesday night.

They intercepted a man they believe was about to meet a 14-year-old girl, and unfortunately the circumstances are becoming all too familiar to law enforcement.

Troopers believe the two met in a chat room, and were about to meet in person for the first time. They say the girls parents had no idea.

A McLean County sheriff's deputy found 21-year-old James Barnes on the side of Route 431 Tuesday night talking on a cell phone to a 14-year-old McLean County girl.

Trooper Mark Applin, with the KSP, states, "When talking to the girl, they were to meet for the purpose of having sexual relations, and she admitted that she had been talking to him on the Internet chat room for two years."

Troopers believe Barnes came into town by bus from New Jersey and was walking to meet the girl. They say a search of Barnes' hotel room confirmed their suspicions.

Trooper Applin explains, "In the room, they found miscellaneous items and also some photographs of this young lady nude."

He says they arrested Barnes before anything physical could happen.

"The most important thing through the whole story here is parents need to be aware of where their children are going, what they're doing, who they're talking to," warns Trooper Applin.

Karla Ward with New Beginnings teaches Internet safety classes with one geared towards parents.

Ward replies, "Parents need to realize that they have to keep the communication lines open with their child. They need to go online with their child. They need to make sure that they see the sites they're visiting, but also they need to monitor how much time their child spends online."

Ward also speaks to fourth through eighth graders, giving them a reality check about logging on.

"We tell children that not everything they see online is accurate information and not everything that's given to them is accurate information. One of the best things they can do is make sure that they chat with only people they know and not with strangers," Ward continues.

Deputies saved this 14-year-old from a possibly dangerous situation in McLean County. Barnes is now behind bars charged with attempted rape and unlawful transaction with a minor.

Other teens, however, might not be so lucky.

Ward speaks to parent organizations, schools and children's groups about Internet safety. To contact her or for more information on how you can keep your kids safe you can visit New Beginnings' Web site.

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