MySpace predator convicted for grooming girls online

A Californian man who preyed upon girls using MySpace has been convicted.

A man from California who trawled the social networking site MySpace in order to groom and exploit young female users has been convicted of felony charges.

At the Riverside County Superior Court, 34 year-old Joshua David Threlkeld was found guilt of 79 felony charges and one misdemeanor.

Exploiting the common concerns and desires of young teenage girls, Threlkeld is reported to have created a fake modelling agency online between 2007 and 2009. After creating an additional fake profile and posing as a 13 year-old model called Sara, the Californian then tricked his victims in to sending him explicit photos.

Posing as 'Sara', he would search MySpace and Facebook for likely victims, and then solicit girls to send sexually explicit photos. Preying on vulnerable young girls, in the vain hope of a modelling contract, nearly 200 girls sent him images -- from both the United States and overseas.

According to the district attorney's office, the victims were all between the ages of 11 and 17, of which 41 contributed at the trial.

Threlkeld was also convicted of kidnapping one child, a 13 year-old. The predator met up with the girl, took her to Palm Springs for a 'photo shoot', and then proceeded to sexually assault her in the shower. Others were taken to his home or San Jacinto, where a number were photographed in the nude.

The man's actions were only discovered when one of the young, hopeful models told her mother about the pictures. Threlkeld faces a maximum life sentence when he is sentenced on April 11 this year.

Image credit: James Emery