USA: 16-year-old safeguarded from sexual abuse by online groomer

Hope for Justice prevented a 16-year-old boy being sexually abused after he was lured to a hotel room by a man who groomed him online through an app.

Scott* had been spending a lot of time on Discord, a chat and messaging app popular among gamers. He was befriended there by a man twice his age, who persuaded Scott to meet him at a motel near Scott’s home in the Southern United States.

But thankfully a couple of months previously, Scott’s dad had taken part in a Hope for Justice training course about the potential signs of online grooming. So when his son disappeared from home, he contacted the investigative Hub at Hope for Justice. Our investigators checked Scott’s internet history, accessed Scott’s Discord account and saw that he had been talking to the man online.

Our expert team were able to pinpoint Scott’s location, at a motel not far from home, through his phone that same day. When our investigators arrived at the motel, it became clear that Scott would have been sexually abused by the man, had we not intervened. The man ran from the hotel, but was later found and arrested by the police.

After reuniting Scott with his parents, we offered counseling  to help him recover, and worked with him and his family to help them further understand the risk of online grooming. Scott is now doing well and is back at school.

*Name has been changed to protect identity. Image posed by actor, does not show this case.