By: KDKA-TV's Erika Stanish
CONNELLSVILLE, Pa. (KDKA) - A convicted sex offender is behind bars again after police said he targeted a 13-year-old Connellsville Middle School student on Snapchat.
Connellsville police said Jason Meals showed up at the middle school on Wednesday and told the school administration he was the student's uncle.
According to a criminal complaint, police report Meals told school security that he was to take the victim to a doctor's appointment and that the victim told him that her parents were okay with him doing so.
"School security and the school officials, they have a procedure for when somebody is getting their child out of school. They took the gentleman's identification, saw that he was not on the list and then the sister to the 13-year-old said that they did not notice the man and that's when the school called Connellsville police to respond," Thomas Patton, a detective with Connellsville police, said.
Police said Meals drove three hours from Erie to Connellsville to pick up the student.
Court documents report that Meals and the victim had only known each other for a few days and had met on Snapchat.
"I cannot ring the warning bell enough for parents to understand the danger out there in the online community," FBI Pittsburgh Special Agent Timothy Wolford said.
According to the Pennsylvania Megan's Law website, Meals is a registered sex offender. It shows Meals was convicted of two indecent assault incidents involving minors in 2010.
According to court documents, Meals admitted to police that he knew the victim was only 13, but still asked her for nude photos and videos.
"Meals admitted that he and the victim talked about being together, what they would do and if she wanted to move in with him," the criminal complaint said.
Police said after interviewing the victim, she said she did not know Meals was coming to the school until he messaged her and said, "I'm here."
Patton said the victim had her location on while using the Snapchat app.
Police and the FBI are now warning parents of what could happen when your kids are online.
Wolford told KDKA during a Sept. 30 interview that predators not only see who they are talking to but can even track their location.
"Kids will put a lot of info on their profile from their age to what school they go to, to where they live. People are out there looking at profiles trying to find 'where's the age range I'm looking to target?' It's really important to make sure the privacy settings are set in place," Wolford said.
According to the Department of Justice, parents should be involved in their children's online activities and should discuss internet safety.
Other safety tips include reviewing games, apps and social media sites before they are downloaded.
Authorities also recommend adjusting your privacy settings and avoiding sharing personal information, photos and videos online.
"We need parents. They are the frontline of defense. We need them to be involved in what's going on with their kids when they're getting online," Wolford said.
Meals is facing charges including attempted kidnapping and corruption of minors.
He was booked in the Fayette County Prison without bond.
The Connellsville Area School Superintendent said he's grateful for his employees and school administration, saying they followed all security procedures Wednesday and its system worked.
Parents can read more about keeping their kids safe online here.
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