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Centerville Police seek suspect after 8-year-old girl ‘groomed’ to send explicit photos via app

CENTERVILLE, Utah — Police in Centerville are investigating a case involving an 8-year-old girl, who was coerced into sending nude pics of herself via an app called musical.ly.

According to warrants unsealed this week in 2nd District Court, the 8-year-old was “groomed” by an individual claiming to be a 9-year-old, and eventually convinced to send explicit photos of herself.

The suspect asked the girl to, “do a challenge,” and began asking her for pictures.  As the conversation proceeded, according to warrants, the requests became more and more explicit.

The suspect identified themselves as a “friend,” and threatened to share explicit photos of the girl if she refused to follow their instructions.  The suspect urged the girl to continue, saying, “its just between me and nobody will see plzs (sic) trust me plzs (sic) I’m crying again,” according to the affidavit.

As time went on, the requests became more and more explicit.  When asked to identify themselves, the suspect threatened the victim, saying, “do pics or I’ll post this conversion OK,” the warrants state.

Police were eventually called when the victim’s brother saw the conversation, and told his mother, who notified police. Officer David Boucher of the Centerville Police Department searched the contents of the phone, where he found screenshots of the conversation saved on the device.

According to Assistant Police Chief Von Steenblik, there are currently no suspects in the case.  He said it often takes several warrants  to track down an IP address and to find out where the explicit messages were originally sent from.

At this time it is not clear whether the victim was specifically targeted or found at random.

“You hear it over and over again,” Steenblik said. “If you are going to provide a phone to a child, especially an 8-year-old, you need to set restrictions on that phone.”