A 24-year-old California man was arrested for allegedly grooming dozens of children as young as 6 worldwide and persuading them to create pornographic videos, prompting some experts to speak up about how parents should monitor their kids’ online activities.
The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office arrested Demetrius Carl Davison Tuesday for allegedly pretending to be a girl named “Lizzy” on multiple social media accounts to groom more than 80 U.S. children and more than 15 internationally between the ages of 6 and 13.
The suspect allegedly sent the child victims child pornography before convincing them to film themselves engaged in sexual acts with their siblings or other children.
According to a Tuesday video from the sheriff’s office, a December tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children prompted a raid of Davis’s residence that month, leading to the discovery of electronic devices containing sexual recordings of children. Sheriff’s Office Spokesperson Sgt. Rod Grassmann said it is believed that Davis communicated with “well over 100 children” between late 2020 and December of 2021.
“Davis used [social media] accounts to befriend and communicate with children on the internet in order to groom them,” Gassmann said. “Investigators believe Davis spoke to his victims in sexually explicit language as well as sent them videos of child pornography. After establishing a relationship with the child, Davis would direct them to produce child pornography depicting themselves engaging in sexual acts.”
Investigators used forensic analysis to uncover numerous files of child pornography stored within Davis’ cellular telephones and accounts with which he was communicating, leading to the discovery of multiple potential victims.
The U.S. Department of Homeland security is working to help identify the 15 victims believed to reside internationally.
Grassmann encouraged families to check their children’s cellular devices if they have been communicating with people they are not familiar with.
Adam Holz, director of Christian organization Focus on the Family’s Plugged In, a program that helps parents pick appropriate entertainment choices for children, told The Christian Post that this case shows parents need to have the online version of the “stranger danger” talk with their children.
“This horrific story is an eye-opening reminder of a number of important things parents must keep in mind,” Holz wrote in a Friday statement to The Christian Post. “First — and most basic— let’s not assume that our kids have what we might call ‘common sense’ about online interactions.”
“We might assume they know not to interact with strangers, not to take revealing pictures or videos of themselves,” he continued. “But they may not know these things or fully understand why these basic boundaries are so crucial.”
Holz, a father of three children, advised parents to monitor the content their kids interact with online and set up appropriate boundaries, such as dictating where they can use screens in the house and for how long. Holz also believes that parents need to have a “healthy, ongoing conversation” with their kids about why posting pictures or videos of their naked bodies online is wrong.
“The best way to help our kids navigate these issues is ultimately building a healthy relationship with them,” Holz said. “Talk with them. Engage with them. Pay attention to the things they’re drawn to online.”