Crime And Criminals Blog - Crimes, criminals, scams and frauds.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Dating Web site romance leads to real-life beating and rape

PORT RICHEY - She found him on the Internet, on a dating site called American Singles. He called himself COWBOYBOOTS38. When they met for drinks at Alli Gators one night in August, he talked sweet and held her hand.

But by the end of the night, a 32-year-old Hudson woman's date with a cyber-cowboy had devolved into beating and rape.

Authorities say David William Prentice, 40, a Brooksville produce manager, struck the woman's face, choked her with a pillowcase, bit her chest, raped her and forced her to perform oral sex.

The woman, whose identity is being withheld because of the nature of the charges, said in an e-mail to the Times that the attack left her with a black eye, broken bones in her feet, torn cartilage in her shoulder and a perforated eardrum.

"Why?" she wrote in an e-mail to Prentice. "Please help me understand why? I can't help but weep and struggle as I try to get my mind and heart around this."

More than two months passed between the attack and Prentice's arrest. In the meantime, the woman took up a frantic quest for justice.

She kept pressure on investigators from the Pasco County Sheriff's Office. She e-mailed details of the case to at least four media outlets, a congressman and two U.S. senators. And she asked a friend to set an online trap for COWBOYBOOTS38.

"you look rugged," the friend wrote.

"i am," the cowboy replied, "but i can be a pussy cat too."

"but I really would like some pictures before I talk to you more," the friend said near the end of the conversation.

"if your worried if im not good looking," the cowboy said, "i usally do the kickin to the curb."

There is no indication this conversation provided evidence for the investigation, but by last week detectives had marshaled enough to get a warrant for Prentice's arrest.

After Hernando authorities took him in - his address is 3402 Culbreath Road, Brooksville - he was transferred Monday to the Land O'Lakes jail. He remained there Tuesday in lieu of $70,000 bail, charged with two counts of sexual battery.

American Singles, the online dating site where Prentice met the victim, is one of the largest such sites on the Web. It has nearly 7-million members.

Gail Laguna, a spokeswoman for the site's parent company, said the site does not conduct background checks on its members. But it does have other safety procedures.

"If we become aware of anyone on the site who may have the potential to cause harm to other members," she said, "we will immediately remove their profile from the site."

That's no longer an issue for the victim. She has canceled her membership.


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