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South Brunswick girl falls prey to online predator

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Published in the Home News Tribune 8/10/04

SOUTH BRUNSWICK: A 13-year-old township girl was sexually assaulted at a motel in South Hackensack by a 27-year-old man whom she befriended over the Internet, police said.

Township police found the girl, reported missing by her mother, Saturday on Route 1 in the front seat of the man’s car, police said.

The girl’s mother called police at 7:45 p.m. Saturday, reporting that her daughter went out for a run at 5:30 that evening and did not return.

Investigators checked a computer at the home and interviewed the girl’s friends. They found the girl had been conversing with Jose Casallas of West Paterson for the past two weeks, said South Brunswick detective Jim Ryan.

They also learned that Casallas and the girl met Friday night.

“She told her mother she was going out to the movies, but she went out to dinner” with Casallas, Ryan said.

The investigation was aided by a picture Casallas sent the girl of the car, a Nissan 350Z, Ryan said. They learned later the car had Florida license plates, he said.

At 11:45 p.m., a car matching that description was spotted by a relative of the girl on Route 1, he said. Soon afterward, Sgt. Patrick O’Brien stopped Casallas and the girl on Route 1 at New Road.

Investigators learned early Sunday that the sexual assault took place at the Airport Motel in South Hackensack, Ryan said.

The girl was taken to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, where she was treated for the sexual assault.

Casallas was charged with second-degree sexual assault and taken to Bergen County Jail in Hackensack, where he remained yesterday in lieu of $250,000 bail. The offense carries a prison term of five to 10 years.

Ken Serrano: (732) 565-7212; kserrano@thnt.com

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