Teenage girls love rock bands. The have been screaming and passing out at rock concerts since the Beatles invaded America. So when someone they meet on-line has access to backstage passes and other perks, the girls take notice. Who doesn’t want VIP treatment? John Zimmerman, tour band manager for the alternative rock group “The Getaway Plan”, knew this and used these perks and access to lure in his prey.
Zimmerman used many social media sites like Facebook and MySpace to create several identities. He would look through the band’s MySpace contacts to select attractive girls to target and then friend them from his account. As he started his on-line relationships with them he offered a sympathetic ear and offered them support and advice. He would call his prey kind names like “babe” and “gorgeous”. He would tell them about his job as band manager “The Getaway Plan” but also tell them he’d worked with Beyonce and Pink. Then he’d start to brag about the perks of his job (tickets, access, etc.).
The girls naturally wanted access to Zimmerman’s perks and were excited to be talking with someone like him. But he wasn’t giving the perks away for free. The teen girls would have to perform sexual favors in return. When he made the request girls who resisted the idea met with his wrath. Girls that he called “babe” and “gorgeous” now became “whore” and “slut”. Some he threatened by telling them he knew where they lived and he’d find them. Other’s he’d threaten to distribute their nude photos they’d sent him if they didn’t do what he said. Unfortunately many gave into his demands and paid a very high price – the loss of their innocence to a predator.
Thankfully, Zimmerman was caught. His 55 victims, all between the ages of 12 and 17, and 87 charges, which include child pornography and rape, got him a 16 year jail sentence.
Parents: This is another great reason to review your teen’s social media accounts and ask them how they know each of their “friends”. If you find they have “friends” that they have never met in real life start asking questions about them. Who are they? What do they talk about? Tell them they need to be careful about predators. Predators want access to your kids so they can groom them over time to get them to do things they’d never thought they’d do. Like having sex with Zimmerman for a couple of concert tickets.
Learn more about protecting your kids on social networking sites on our Parent’s Social Networking Issues Page.