This story first appeared on Cowboy State Daily

By Jennifer Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

Christal Martin thought nothing about letting her 12-year-old daughter sleep over at a friend’s slumber party.

She knew the girls and her parents and thought her daughter would be totally safe. Little did she know that the dangers awaiting her daughter weren’t coming from anyone in the house.

It started with a conversation with a stranger on the website Omegle, a site that randomly pairs people together for one-on-one video chats. It led to her daughter being victimized online by more than a dozen predators who had used the internet to groom her for future contact.

Martin’s daughter is not alone as online predators continue to be a growing problem across the state, according to law enforcement and various agencies.

After attending the slumber party, the behavior of Martin’s daughter rapidly began to change, Martin said. Suddenly, she was acting secretive and hiding her phone screen when her parents looked over her shoulder, something they chalked up to teenage moodiness.

Not long after, her daughter attended another birthday sleepover with her cousin, who was just a few months younger than her, and some other girls. It was the cousin who later shared her concerns with her own mother and Martin about how the teen had repeatedly kept going into the bathroom with her phone and chatting with a guy claiming to be their age but whose deep voice sounded much older.

Because his screen was purposely blurred, however, it was impossible to see him clearly.

Martin’s daughter didn’t heed her cousin’s warnings, insisting that this guy was a friend who had complimented her beauty and told her how much he loved her.

When Martin learned about her daughter’s online activity, she took away her phone and iPad and found nude frontal photos and videos of her daughter masturbating, all of which she’d shared with between 20 to 30 different “friends” online.

Horrified, Martin packed her daughter down to the Green River Police Department, where she turned over her devices for help in tracking the men down. The police, however, weren’t able to locate the men’s IP addresses because they were using an app that concealed their physical location.

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