Andrew Michael Brandt of Seminole, Florida was arrested Thursday after he was accused of posing as a teen on social networking sites, where he met a 15-year-old girl he allegedly had sex with, news sources report. Brandt, 27, was booked into the Sarasota County Jail on three counts of unlawful sexual activity with a minor and three counts of lewd or lascivious battery on a victim over 12 and under 16. A judge ordered that he be held in lieu of $60,000 bail bond. The press did not specify an criminal defense lawyer for Brandt.
Earlier this year, Brandt allegedly created a Facebook profile under the pseudonyms Mike Berns and Andy Berns. As Berns, Brandt told various teen girls that he was also a teen, reports say. Brandt met the victim in this case while posing as Berns on Tagged.com, sources allege. Brandt supposedly told the 15-year-old victim he was only 17.
After exchanging messages with the victim for a period, Brandt travelled to her hometown of Sarasota in March, sources say. There, the two allegedly started having sex. It is unclear how long that relationship lasted and how many times Brandt may have had sexual encounters with the victim.
The press did not indicate how officers learned of the illicit affair. The girl’s identity is being kept confidential due to her age and the nature of the crime.
Police have since arrested Brandt, but an investigation is ongoing and officers worry that there may be more victims, reports indicate. The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office has since issued a statement, telling parents to be wary of their children’s online lives and suggesting that they use this case as an example of why online safety is paramount. “Teach and continually reinforce the importance of being safe online,” the Sheriff’s Office reportedly said. “Explain to them that you are not trying to invade their privacy. You are just trying to make sure they are safe.”
Sexual crimes take many forms. Earlier last week, Miramar resident Jorge Mesa was arrested after he allegedly used a hole in his pocket to fondle himself at an outlet store, sources report. Mesa, 51, was booked into the police custody on charges of disorderly conduct. It is unclear whether he qualified for bail or hired legal representation.
The incident took place at Bealls Outlet Store in Port St. Lucie, sources say. A security guard at the shop reportedly spotted Mesa masturbating and called police. Officers responded to the location and found Mesa trying to hide in an aisle, reports indicate. When questioned by the officers, Mesa reportedly said he was looking for items for his daughter.
When police looked over surveillance footage from the store’s cameras, they reportedly found a clip of Mesa looking around aisle corners while touching himself, reports say. The officers showed the video to Mesa and he purportedly admitted to the crime. Police searched Mesa and found a hole in his pants pocket, which he may have used to commit the indecent act, news sources report. Mesa was subsequently arrested.