FORT MYERS, Fla. – A Florida man is accused of having sex with a 15-year-old girl he met while playing an online video game, authorities said.
Dillon Atkinson, 26, of North Fort Myers, was arrested on Dec. 29 and charged with lewd and lascivious behavior or lewd and lascivious battery on a victim between 12 and 16 years old, according to Lee County Sheriff’s Office online booking records.
According to an arrest affidavit, the victim’s parents called police after discovering a chat between their daughter and someone with an email matching Atkinson’s name on her school-issued Chromebook, the Miami Herald reported.
The victim admitted to having a sexual relationship with a 26-year-old man after she was confronted by her parents, WINK-TV reported.
The teen said she met the man through the video game Fortnite in June 2022 and began talking to him again, according to the television station.
According to the sheriff’s office, the victim told her father that she had sex with the man “multiple times” over the previous two weeks, WINK reported.
According to the arrest affidavit, the first incident occurred inside Atkinson’s work truck after he picked up the victim near her school and bought her food from Burger King, the television station reported.
The second incident allegedly occurred on Dec. 21 at the suspect’s home, WINK reported.
Atkinson confirmed the victim’s story when interviewed by detectives but said he was unaware of the legal age of consent and that the victim claimed to be 16.
Fortnite is a free, multiplayer video game where players enter an online world and collaborate to survive, the Herald reported.
A spokesperson for the game’s developer, Epic Games, said in a statement to the Herald that the company has protections in place for younger players.
“We take reports about the safety of our players seriously and thoroughly investigate them, including working directly with local law enforcement to take action,” the statement said.
Marc Berkman, CEO of the Social Media Safety Organization, told WINK that there are plenty of risks for children playing online games.
“It’s far, far more challenging for them to avoid those dangers,” Berkman told the television station. “So they need to have an understanding, including of grooming, of sexual exploitation, those are happening on gaming sites.”
Atkinson remains in the Lee County Jail, with bail set at $100,000, online records show. He is scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 30.
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