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Girls in the Same Youth Group Targeted by Sex Offender Via Bible App

registered sex offender
Screengrab @BibleApp

Authorities recently apprehended a registered sex offender in Florida who was using the YouVersion Bible app to target teenage girls. The incident highlights the need for parents to be vigilant about their children’s smartphone use, no matter how innocent a particular app might seem. 

“There’s a world of nasty people who want your children, and open platforms give them an open door to them,” said Rev. Russell Meyer, as reported by ABC Action News. Meyer is a Lutheran pastor over two local churches not connected to the case. 

Registered Sex Offender Targets Youth Group

Douglas Earl Kersey is a 50-year-old man from Tampa who started using the Bible app to befriend underage girls at an unidentified church in Hillsborough County. Kersey went under the name, “Doug K,” and used an email address that he failed to register with law enforcement, something that is a third-degree felony for a registered sex offender. 

Detective Theresa Grooms, who worked the case, said the incident “was unheard of for me and I’ve been with the sheriff’s office 21 years and been an investigator, school resource deputy. I did not even know that they could friend request and converse on that app.”

For those who might not be familiar with this feature of the Bible app, if you go to the home page, you will see an icon of a person in the upper right hand corner.

When you tap the icon, the app takes you to a page where you have the option to add friends.