SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – A man lured a 13-year-old girl to his apartment by pretending to be one of her friends on Snapchat and then raped her, according to charging documents.
Tristan Todd Larson, of North Logan, was charged on Thursday with the rape of a child, use or possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of controlled substance marijuana/spice.
The probable cause statement reads, “…on June 22 (the girl) received a Snapchat message from someone” she thought went to her school. The message asked the girl if she wanted to come over. The girl agreed and took a bus from Logan to North Logan.
Documents state the girl went to the apartment and knocked on the door. A male individual, who she later identified as Larson, answered the door, rather than her female friend that she was expecting. The girl told police she was “confused and surprised that Larson answered the door.”
Larson, 20, then “pulled her into his apartment by her arm, then placed a red bandana over her mouth and tied it around the back of her head,” according to the probable cause statement.
The report states Larson “pushed her down the hallway and into a bedroom” where he raped her.
The 13-year-old was able to identify Larson because she had seen him around and because her boyfriend is acquaintances with him as well, the report states. That’s how “Tristan knew who she was and was pretending to be (a girl classmate of hers) on Snapchat to lure her to the apartment,” the report stated.
In an interview with police, Larson said he knows the girl and had been with her on the day of the event. Documents state Larson told police he “walked to Walmart with her” but went on to say the girl “had never been in his apartment, nor his bedroom.”
“When Tristan was asked how (the girl) was able to describe his room and the items in his room he invoked his right to an attorney. The interview ended at that time,” according to documents.
Alan Conner with the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force said, unfortunately, these sort of incidents happen far too often.
“I don’t know if I can put a number to it,” the Regional Supervisor told ABC4’s Brittany Johnson.
The ICAC team is not associated with this specific case out of North Logan, but they prosecute and investigate individuals who use the internet to exploit children.
“I’ve been doing this for a long time now and I’ve seen too often that you meet up with somebody you thought was somebody and they’re not,” he said.
The harsh reality is that Snapchat can be a gold mine for predators.
“When we’re talking about kids, they’re easily manipulated. They want to be liked, they want to be popular. The confirmation of those feelings and those emotions are what predators jump on,” Connor explained.
“As the parents, we need to be informed. We need to go out there and look and see what our kids are doing. If we don’t understand it we have to educate ourselves. We can’t rely on somebody else to do our parenting for us.”
This current list of popular apps and websites these child predators are using is provided by the Utah Attorney General’s Office:
Report child pornography to law enforcement by contacting the ICAC Tip Line at 801.281.1211 or your local law enforcement agency.