Originally Published: January 8, 2019 6:09 p.m.
A registered sex offender in Prescott Valley was arrested Friday, Jan. 4, after allegedly engaging in sexual conduct with a 13-year-old girl he met over social media.
The two connected through an online service called Skout, according to a Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office (YCSO) news release. The girl had set up an account with the service using a fake name and photo. She also described herself as a 21-year-old with an extensive education.
Paul Jenkins, 26, from Prescott Valley, contacted the girl and she agreed to meet him in a Prescott Valley parking lot, according to the release. He eventually gave her a ride to his home.
That same day, the Prescott Police Department received a report that the girl was a runaway. The department asked YCSO deputies to check an address in Prescott Valley to see if the girl was there. Jenkins answered the door and allowed deputies to search his home. The girl was found hiding in a closet, YCSO reported. An investigation revealed the two had been engaged in sexual conduct until deputies arrived. Throughout an interview with Jenkins, he claimed he only found out the girl was underage when deputies told him at the door.
Jenkins is facing multiple charges, including failure to provide/disclose several online social media accounts as required for registered sex offenders. He is currently being held without bond in the Yavapai County jail.
“The sheriff’s office cannot stress enough the importance of parents and guardians checking phones, computers, and other means of electronic communications for concerning activity on social media sites,” said YCSO spokesperson Dwight D’Evelyn. “Many times, teens will set up social media accounts with fake names, ages and background information in order to attract older contacts to chat with and/or meet in person. This is obviously dangerous and if you sense any suspicious activity in this light, investigate thoroughly. Also consider safety measures available from your cell phone provider, including call/data/internet restrictions and the ability to monitor use remotely.”
For information on basic internet safety, go to http://origin.www.netsmartz.org/InternetSafety.