A Joppa woman was charged last week in connection with an illegal sexual relationship with a 16-year-old Florida boy she met while playing video games online—and police say the scenario is not uncommon.
The case is the second to impact the area within the past two years.
In January 2011, a California woman was charged with rape in connection with a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old Bel Air boy, whom she met playing Xbox Live. The woman, who was 36 at the time the charges were filed, later pleaded guilty to second-degree rape.
"We typically think of men as the predator," said Trooper Michelle Workman, who is assigned to the Harford County Child Advocacy Center. "This [case] is just a little bit different."
Workman said online video games are used by both men and women for soliciting children and teens.
Investigators of crimes against children are seeing a growing number of cases involving online video games, and the reason for this is two-fold, she said: "I think that the problem is growing and I also think it’s being reported more as well."
Workman said parents should be remember that many video games also involve Internet access and recommended that games played on in a family area so they are easier to monitor.
"Monitor their computer games, cell phone use," Workman said. "Check Internet history."
Workman said the case involving Lisa Elaine Carroll, 39, of Joppa, allegedly involved contact through Skype and a video game, but not over the telephone. Carroll later allegedly met the boy in person in Florida on two occasions.
Workman urged parents to watch for warning signs in their children such as, "excessive use of any video game or a kid's desire for an inordinate amount of privacy."