CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. (KSNT) – A 13-year-old Topeka girl is back home safe after being taken to Georgia by a man she met in an online game, according to the Clayton County Police Department.
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Clayton County jail records show Howard L. Graham, 33, is being held on the following charges without bond set:
- Statutory rape
- Sexual exploitation of a child
- Interference with custody
- Cruelty to children in the first degree
- Aggravated child molestation
- Trafficking of persons for labor or servitude
Clayton County police held a press conference at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday to share details on the case, noting that Graham drove around 13 hours from Georgia to Topeka to pick the teen up on Feb. 20.
The CCPD spokesperson said Graham and the teen had only met on the online game Roblox the previous Friday, Feb. 18, before he convinced her to run away from home.
“Between the time they got here on Sunday, and the Thursday night when she was released at the Dollar General, they had had sexual intercourse many times, and she finally had relayed that she wanted to go back home to one of the roommates,” the spokesperson said. “The roommates were under the impression that this was the stepdaughter of [Graham].”
The teen explained to Graham’s roommates later that he was not her stepfather, and the roommates confronted him, according to CCPD. Graham then took the girl to a local Dollar General store and left her there. The girl was able to get ahold of her family and tell them where she was, and police were able to reunite her with them. CCPD said officers found Graham at his workplace shortly after finding the teen, and arrested him.
“It was quite pleasurable to see the reaction on his face, because he didn’t know we knew who he was,” the CCPD spokesperson said.
Graham will be charged in Topeka, and the FBI is getting involved in the case, according to Clayton County police. The Topeka Police Department told KSNT News that it was not involved in the investigation beyond taking an initial runaway report when the teen disappeared.
A Roblox spokesperson gave KSNT’s sister station in Georgia, WJBF, this statement about the incident:
“We were deeply saddened to hear about this case. There is nothing more important to parents — including the many parents who work at Roblox — than ensuring that children are safe when they learn and play, online or off. We work tirelessly to prevent grooming on our platform. We have stringent safety systems and a team of thousands of moderators who enforce a strict set of community standards on Roblox, including zero tolerance for sexual content of any kind. While we have not been contacted by authorities about this case, we always cooperate with law enforcement requests and promptly report any suspect behavior to relevant organizations such as the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children in the United States.”Roblox Spokesperson
Roblox also mentioned preventative measures parents can turn on for kids in the game to avoid predatory situations.
“We filter all text chat on the platform to block inappropriate content or personal information and we offer parental controls and features such as ‘Account Restrictions,’ so parents and caregivers have the option to limit chat to a curated list of contacts or turn chat off altogether. Users can also mute or block players that they come across in games and report inappropriate content or behavior using our Report Abuse system.”Roblox Spokesperson