A meet-up site with a teen community section has decided to suspend access to its teenage users after one too many connections ended up in sexual assaults of minors.
The most recent involved 21-year-old on the forum. He arranged to pick up a 13-year-old boy in Muskego, who had sent pictures of his naked genitals to Schmidt and the two eventually arranged to meet, according to the criminal complaint.
"We know how much Skout means to our teen community, and, at Skout, our community means everything to us," Skout CEO Christian Wiklund wrote in a blog post. "For now, we believe that there’s only one thing we can do: until we can design better protections, we are temporarily shutting down the under-18 community."
Response to the blog and the suspension of the site were overwhelmingly negative, as commenters felt cut off from people they hoped to get to know without any advance notice.
"We are extremely sorry about this, but we don't believe we have any other choice. We will not compromise the safety of our community, and right now, our concerns are too significant to simply stand by and do nothing," Wiklund added.
The other cases involved a 37-year-old Ohio man charged with raping a 13-year-old girl he met while posing as a teenager on skout.com, and a missing 12-year-old California girl found with a 24-year-old man after her mother found skout.com messages on the girl's cellphone.
Schmidt is facing second-degree sexual assault charges after he was spotted with the teenager at Hales Corners park on June 2. A woman who was walking her dog nearby called police, who then confronted the two as they were leaving the park.
Schmidt is free on $5,000 bond while awaiting trial. If convicted, he faces up to 40 years in prison and $100,000 in fines.