Thank Heaven someone finally noticed something was wrong when a 52-year-old Charleston man made multiple trips to Sardis, Ohio, to pick up a 14-year-old girl – then took her back across the Ohio River to a New Martinsville motel, where the the pair had sex.
Last week the man, Mark Loring Dawson, was sentenced to as much as nine years in prison.
New Martinsville police and the FBI deserve praise for their good work in apprehending Dawson. U.S. Attorney William Ihlenfeld and his staff are to be commended for successfully prosecuting him.
But the episode raises questions about how Dawson was able to victimize the girl so easily and for so long.
He made contact with her on the Internet, lying about his age. The relationship began in May 2012 and continued until last April.
Was no one paying attention to the girl’s activities during that period of nearly a year?
What happened is a reminder to parents and guardians: Monitor what your child is doing on the Internet, as well as where she or he is spending time outside the home.
Children often resent such attention. That was true long before there was an Internet. But remember, they are children, whose judgment sometimes is not the best.
Keeping an eye on them now may prevent them from being victimized by predators such as Mark Loring Dawson.