PASCO COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A warning to parents everywhere: sexual predators are lurking on dating apps and waiting to prey on children.
A 13-year-old Pasco teen downloaded Grindr, a dating app that connects gay men. He created a profile, looking for someone special, but he ended up finding an alleged child molester.
Less than an hour after opening an account, the teen’s father tells us his son exchanged messages with 42-year-old Shawn Daly, a Port Richey man who was up to no good.
“Very explicit. Stuff I wouldn’t want another parent to have to hear.”
The father says he usually keeps a close watch on his son, but this incident escalated so quickly, it was out of his control.
“To know that something could’ve happened in 15 minutes could’ve changed his life forever maybe have to deal with him not being here today you never know what these sickos have on their mind.”
The parent, who did not want to be identified, admitted his son shouldn’t have been on the app in the first place.
When asked about the nature of the messages, the father said the teen sent Daly “a picture of his butt.”
However, deputies say the teen did inform the man behind the screen he was only 13 years of age. That didn’t matter to Daly.
“The juvenile disclosed to the suspect that he was a juvenile and the suspect continued to interact with him and continued to solicit him for sex,” said Sgt. Michael Rosa with the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.
When his father saw the messages, he called the police. Deputies took over the boy’s account and set up a sting, but Daly didn’t fall for it.
However, when deputies came knocking on Daly’s door, the alleged predator did not hide what he was into.
“I don’t know how remorseful he was, but he did confess to the crime,” said Sgt. Rosa.
Daly was arrested in January 2016 for reportedly molesting a 13-year-old boy.
The sheriff’s office and the most recent victim’s father are urging parents to pay close attention because you never know who could be lurking on social media to solicit your child.
“Protect your children. People are out here and they’re a lot closer than you think they are.”
Daly will have a bond hearing Friday in Pasco County.
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