COLUMBIA COUNTY, Fla. – A Gainesville man was arrested Monday after authorities said he used Facebook to solicit nude photos from a 14-year-old girl, according to a warrant affidavit obtained by News4Jax.
Michael Stephen Williams, 28, is facing one count of using a computer to solicit or lure a child and one count of cruelty toward a child.
Columbia County investigators said the case against Williams began Oct. 15, when the mother of a 14-year-old girl filed a complaint. The mother told deputies that her daughter had been receiving explicit Facebook and text messages from Williams.
Computer security expert Christopher Hamer praised the mother's actions.
"I'd like to commend mom for the dedication it takes for her to do that, because it's not just something you just fire up the computer and happen to see," Hamer told News4Jax on Tuesday. "She had to consistently monitor and check her daughter's activities, and it's fantastic that she caught this before it got horribly out of hand."
According to the mother’s complaint, Williams had repeatedly tried to get the girl to send him explicit pictures of herself in exchange for explicit pictures of him. The girl’s mother told detectives she knew about the solicitations because she had been monitoring her daughter’s cellphone and social media sites.
Almost two weeks after the complaint was filed, the girl’s mother provided messages to investigators and gave them access to her daughter’s cellphone and Facebook account.
When investigators began searching the victim’s Facebook account, they said they discovered that messages between Williams and the girl began Oct. 12 and continued for the following eight days. A search of cellphone text records revealed the same timeline of communication and confirmed a phone number belonging to Williams.
Detectives said they were eventually able to view numerous explicit messages Williams sent the girl. According to investigators, Williams was very specific by asking the girl to send him nude pictures of herself, but the girl kept refusing his request.
When deputies spoke to the girl, she told them she never sent Williams any nude pictures and that he never sent her any in return. However, investigators said he attempted to solicit nude pics from her multiple times.
Hammer said it was a good thing the teen didn't send any photos because no one knows where those images could have ultimately ended up on the World Wide Web.
Based on the evidence collected, a warrant was issued for his arrest and Williams was taken into custody on Monday.
Williams was booked into the Columbia County jail, where he remains on $200,000 bond.