A 14-year-old Prince William County girl who posed as a boy on Facebook to strike up a relationship with another teenaged girl was arrested last week and charged with stalking, after her true identity was discovered and she refused to stop contacting the alleged victim.
Prince William County police said the girl created a fake profile on Facebook in early 2009 and, using the ruse of being a local boy, befriended a girl with whom she had mutual friends. The two carried on an online relationship and then began meeting in secret at a playground near the victim’s home in the Woodbridge area last summer.
Police said the alleged offender dressed and acted like a boy during their meetings. The victim, also now 14 years old, believed the other girl was a boy, police said, adding that the two may have had the beginnings of a physical relationship, including hugs and kisses.
Officer Erika Hernandez, a police spokeswoman, said the victim’s father learned of the clandestine meetings when his daughter sneaked out of the house. He later learned that the supposed “boyfriend” was actually a girl and informed his daughter.
“He told his daughter not to see her or have any contact with her,” Hernandez said. “And the victim, at that point, did not want to have any contact with her either. She followed his instructions.”
The girl posing as a boy continued to contact the victim, however, and the victim’s parents, monitoring her online account, became increasingly concerned. Police said the family contacted them in October, and a Prince William detective warned the suspect and her family not to have any further contact with the girl.
“The victim was not interested in having any contact with the suspect, but she continued to find ways to contact her, and that’s where the stalking comes in,” Hernandez said. The suspect allegedly created additional profiles, pretending again to be different boys, and tried contacting the victim repeatedly over recent months.
It is the unwanted contact, after a warning, that led to the stalking charge, police said. In addition, the girl was charged with sexual assault by ruse because she posed as a boy and struck up a relationship that had the beginnings of intimate contact.
Police did not release the names of the suspect or the victim because they are minors. The suspect was arrested Friday and is being held at the county’s Juvenile Detention Center pending a court hearing.
Hernandez said the case points to the dangers of meeting strangers online. Though this case involved young people looking to meet up, such encounters can result in kidnappings, violence or even murder. Police urge parents to keep a close eye on their children’s online activity.