Lawsuit: Nearly 50-year-old man preyed on San Diego teen using apps

Posted at 11:37 PM, Oct 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-04 02:37:36-04

A local teen has filed a lawsuit against a 48-year-old Indiana man, claiming he used apps to lure her into a sexual relationship that lasted two years 

“He liked to give me stuffed animals that said I love you,” said Jennifer.

Jennifer showed 10News a bag full of items she says the man gave to her, including a Valentine’s Day card.

“He wrote in it, ‘I'm so happy we get to spend some time together today,” said Jennifer.

The items are sweet reminders of a love Jennifer now calls twisted.

“He's a monster,” said Jennifer.

She says their relationship started in 2013 on the chat app MeetMe, with a message from a 48-year-old businessman who thought she was over the age of 18.

She was actually 16.

“I had a lot of issues with my father, so I was looking for a positive male figure that would give me attention,” said Jennifer.

According to Jennifer, days later, she revealed her real age to the married father from Indiana.

After months of chatting, the man flew out on business. They met on a beach in Del Mar.

“Before he got here, he asked me to be his girlfriend. When he was here, he told me he loved me, gave me a ring, and asked me again to be his girlfriend. I told him yes,” said Jennifer.

She says she lost her virginity to him a few months later. For the next year and half, Jennifer says they had sex in hotel rooms during his frequent visits.

“I was in love with him and he told me he loved me too. I just felt super happy and nothing mattered at the time,” said Jennifer.

The happiness wouldn’t last. Jennifer said she soon realized the man was not leaving his wife.

Jennifer tells us she broke off the relationship and confessed everything to her mother Karen.

“My reaction was shock. My chest hurt … He took her innocence,” said Karen.

The question haunting Karen: how did she not know? Jennifer says she texted the man dozens if not hundreds of times a day.

Jennifer says she talked to the man with the chat app CoverMe, billed as a private messaging app. It appears on your phone as a news app.

Jennifer, now 19, just filed a statutory rape lawsuit against the man.

“This is a sexual predator that preys on young people through these apps that a lot of parents don't even understand. He understands them. He used them, and then he finds his victims and exploits them…” said attorney Dan Gilleon, who is representing Jennifer.

Jennifer, who says she defended the man after the break-up, tells us after therapy, she has realized how manipulative he was.

“He needs to know this was not right. I just hope he has never done this to anyone else and he never has the opportunity to do this again,” said Jennifer, choking back tears.

10News asked Karen knowing what she knows now, what would she have done differently?  

“My husband did look at her phone and computer, but not obviously not enough. Be more educated about technology. She was an 'A' student and very respectful and there were no behavior changes. I would not assume my child is making the right choices,” said Karen.

Jennifer is still deciding if she will press for criminal charges, but admits she's skeptical about the judicial system and worried about the emotions of a trial.

10News is not naming the man because he hasn't been charged with a crime. His lawyers declined comment.