A Broward man was arrested Thursday after accusations that he brought a Brevard County 17-year-old to South Florida for sex and creating child pornography.
Prosecutors allege 41-year-old Anthony Gene Thomas connected with his victim through Fortnite, a wildly popular online video game.
That’s according to Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, who announced Thomas’ arrest Thursday afternoon on her website and Twitter feed.
“This case is disturbing not only because it involves child pornography, but also because a popular online game was used to communicate with the victim,” Moody wrote on her website. “We have reason to believe there could be additional victims, and I am asking anyone with information about the recruiting of minors for child pornography, or any other type of sexual exploitation, to call law enforcement immediately.
“Additionally, parents need to know that predators will use any means possible to target and exploit a child. I am asking parents and guardians to please make sure you know who your children meet online, and talk to them about sexual predators.”
Thomas was arrested on one count of unlawful sex with a minor; one count of solicitation of a child for unlawful sexual conduct; one count of traveling to meet a minor for sex; one count of possession with the intent of promoting the sexual performance of a child; two counts of using a computer to compile child pornography; and 19 counts of possession of child pornography.
Thomas’ bond is $780,000.
Technically, Broward’s holding Thomas for Brevard County, where the 17-year-old victim lives and where the charges were filed.
Moody described the investigation’s findings as the following:
A friend of Thomas established contact with the girl from Brevard through Fortnite. Then, the friend introduced Thomas to the girl. When the girl talked about the difficulties of his home life, Thomas provided gifts, credit cards and then a cellphone to allow the girl to call him.
Moody said Thomas and his friend picked up the girl in Brevard County on Aug. 25 and brought her to Thomas’ Broward home for sex. The girl’s parents reported her missing, and she returned home Aug. 26. Moody said that when detectives hit Thomas’ cellphone with a search warrant, they found pornographic pictures and videos of the her.
As is common in these cases, prosecutors believe there might be more victims. Those with information about this case can call BSO Det. Michael Joo at 954-888-5241.