Rarely does a day go by when we are not inundated with the horrifying details of what some sexual predators are capable of doing to children, graphically laid out on shows such as Nancy Grace, Geraldo at Large, CNN News and local stations where we all live.
Victims are not taken at gun point. Instead predators are luring their young victims with a simple click of the mouse. Most parents remain computer illiterate, far behind their technology savvy children. Parents are not prepared to recognize the dangers waiting for their child on a computer or cell phone screen, similar to a one way mirror, into Hell.
As the Florida mother of 3 children, Jaemi Levine preached to each child the dangers waiting outside the walls of her 4-bedroom ranch home. Jaemi was a stay at home Mom, active in the P.T.A., Girl Scouts, and just about everything else related to her family. Her daughter Nicole had just celebrated her twelfth birthday. Nicole was your average pre-teen, playing the tuba in the high school band and a straight “A” student.
Jaemi was a vigilant parent. Always knowing at every moment where Nicole was and what she was doing and with whom, including monitoring her daughter’s online activities.
One night, Nicole went to hang out at a friend’s house to work on a report for school. While Nicole and her friends were on the computer, they took a break and headed onto a “Safe Site” approved for teen chat. Suddenly, up on the computer screen in an instant message, “Hi, I’m, lonely will you be my friend?”
Over the course of 3 weeks Nicole confessed private details to this new on-line friend of her life, the area she and her family lived in Florida where she attended Junior high school, to her favorite flavor of ice cream.
After gaining Nicole’s trust, the skilled child sexual predator convinced her they should get together and meet face to face.
Over the weekend Nicole asked her mother if she could walk to the bookstore 2 blocks from their home. " No Nicole, your sister is sick in bed and you know the rules about going anyplace by yourself. "Please Mom, Nicole begged, I'll only be gone for hour. I need to get a book for my homework assignment. After 15 minutes of debate her mother caved in to her daughters request. "Make sure you take your cell phone. If you are not back in exactly one hour, I will ground you for one week." Happily, Nicole kissed her mother goodbye and headed out the front door.
The hour passed, no Nicole. Frantically every 2 minutes Jaemi was calling Nicole’s cell phone, but she was not answering. Jaemi got into her car and drove to the bookstore and searched for her daughter. Jaemi continued to call and look for Nicole. Finally Nicole answered. She sounded strange. “Where are you?” her mother demanded. “Oh I’m almost home,” Nichole replied. But she was not. Jaemi called the cell phone again. It was the longest two hours of Jaemi’s life. Nicole walked out of the bookstore parking lot and into the car. Nicole was panicked and badly shaken. “I circled everywhere looking for you, who were you talking too?” Nicole had stared at the dashboard unable to look at her mother and respond. “Oh it was um, a 29 year-old man from Pakistan he just asked for directions.” Jaemi looked at her daughter in shock, “what if he had grabbed or hurt you?” Nicole tearfully replied, “I learned never to talk to older men on the computer.” Jaemi said, "my heart sunk down to my feet, knowing my daughter had already been raped."
Once inside the house, Jaemi Levine placed one call to 911 and the other to a friend of the family who was a child psychologist.
The day, the hour, the moment would forever be etched in the mind of both mother and daughter. First, police arrived and made a report followed by a detective removing Nicole's computer and taking it to an expert in capturing all conversations on the hard drive.
Two days later a Detective returned to Jaemi Levine's home with disturbing information. The 29-year old man from Pakistan was a known sexual predator who was part of a large human trafficking operation. They lure young girls. In Nicole's case, the man held her at knife point. This particular group of sexual predators video tape their victims (like Nicole) to show they are still virgins. And get the victim to meet them again where they are abducted and shipped overseas to a foreign country and sold as sex slaves.
And Jaemi Levine has worked to become a tireless advocate for families across the country, educating anyone whom invites her to speak in hopes that we read about one less tragedy with our morning coffee.