The parents of a Lerwick man charged in the United States with electronic solicitation of a child – after a teenage girl complained that the internet affair they were having had become a “master/slave relationship” – have hit back at the allegations, protesting that he is an innocent victim of modern internet life.
Gilda and Gary Bain, whose son Keith, 26, a barman, is the subject of an arrest warrant in the girl’s home state of Minnesota and will be taken into custody should he travel to the States, are upset and angry that he has been portrayed as having groomed an underage girl when she had told him she was 19. The authorities in Washington County, MN, say she was actually 14.
The couple told The Shetland Times: “Our son had met this girl on an internet chat site which for over 18 year olds and she led him to believe she was 19 years old. They struck up quite a nice companionship and they seemed to connect on an emotional level. This progressed to the point that he wished to go over to meet her and her family. She seemed quite a remarkable young woman and was keen to speak with all our son’s friends and family.
“Both Keith and his friends had loads of fun talking together but when our son said to her he wanted to visit her and her family she ended the friendship completely.
“It has been over a year and it now appears she is accusing him of unspeakable acts of behaviour. In our son’s defence he is a very caring person and wears his heart on his sleeve. We believe he would never have indulged in any inappropriate conversations, particularly if he knew she was a minor.
“You cannot imagine how this is affecting him and he is finding life really hard. He thought he had found a caring and genuine friend and this has destroyed his confidence in human nature.
“We can only now reiterate that we support our son completely and would ask everyone to believe in his innocence. He is a victim of the internet life which now exists when people are really unaware of whom they are actually speaking to. It has been a very hard lesson for him and I hope other parents take notice of this now.”
Mrs Bain added that she would like to warn all parents of the dangers of the internet. She said she believed her son had been set up.
The couple have been unsuccessful in securing the services of a Citizens Advice Bureau solicitor because their son does not face any charges in this country.
Sergeant Andy Bilton of Lerwick Police said he had not heard of the warrant but would be looking into the matter. He has visited the Bain family.
According to Washington County attorney Doug Johnson, the girl alleges that the trans-Atlantic internet relationship began in 2007 when Bain began stalking and sexually manipulating her after they met in a chat room aimed at the goth sub-culture. They are said to have exchanged nude photographs of each other and posted bondage items and pornographic DVDs.
The girl complained to police after he threatened in a phone call to come after one of the girl’s friends if the friend tried to put a stop to the relationship.
She told a police investigator that “the relationship with Bain became a master/slave relationship in which Bain was the master and would tell her what to do”, her complaint states.
“We’re not going to extradite him, because under our sentencing guidelines, he would only be placed on probation,” said Mr Johnson. “We’re not going to put the county to that expense.”
The US Bureau of Customs and Border Protection has been put on alert, however. “What we have accomplished is that, if he ever tries to step foot in this country, he’ll be arrested.”
Mrs Bain said she had been in contact with the bureau and was told that it held no information on her son. She had also been in touch with Interpol which again said it had not received any details of the case.