A Wood River man is accused of inappropriate relations with eight or more girls between the ages of 12 and 16 and faces felony charges.
South Roxana police have been investigating Cameron Niethe since Aug. 4, when they received a complaint against him. Niethe, 20, also went by the name Cameron Gaither, according to police.
Police believe Niethe used social media to target young girls, often lying to the parents about his age and claim to be much younger. Once he had established trust, Niethe introduced the girls to mobile apps such as Kik, Snapchat or Skype, and manipulate them into conversations of an adult sexual nature, sending and receiving nude pictures or finding places to meet for sex, according to police.
Police executed a search warrant on Niethe’s phone, which led them to other potential victims. The Madison County Child Advocacy Center has interviewed at least eight minor females in this investigation, according to South Roxana Chief Bob Coles.
Never miss a local story.
Niethe has been charged with five counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, with bail set at $150,000. He was taken into custody on Wednesday afternoon. Police believe there may be more girls yet to be identified.
“A lot of the parents we talked to had no idea about Cameron Niethe or their daughters’ involvement with him,” Coles said. “With today’s social networking, if parents do not perform routine checks on their kids’ internet activity, I would strongly suggest preventing them from having these social apps.”
In general, Coles said, observing children’s social media activity is important.
“I recommend going through all of your child’s social media, and if you don’t recognize the person or your child cannot explain how they know that person in real life, then remove that subject from having contact with your child,” Coles said.
If any parents or their children recognize Niethe, contact the South Roxana Police Department at 618-254-7460.
Contact reporter Elizabeth Donald at firstname.lastname@example.org or 618-239-2507.