A St. Petersburg, Florida, man was arrested Wednesday after he allegedly met a 14-year-old girl online, and traveled to pick her up and take her back to his residence, police said.
The Largo Police Department said officers responded to a report of a 14-year-old runaway in June 2023.
When the officers arrived, they spoke with the girl’s parents, who said they recently learned she was secretly talking with a man on Snapchat.
Investigators also learned the man, later identified as 26-year-old Austin Lawrence Powers, picked up the teenager at least once and took her to his residence.
Days later, police said, Powers allegedly picked the girl up again, but this time posed as one of her friend’s fathers when he met the victim’s mother.
Police said during the meeting, Powers said he was a parent of one of the victim’s friends, adding that he was taking her daughter to play with his daughter at his residence.
After a further and more extensive investigation, detectives were able to identify the man as Powers, a registered sex offender in Florida.
Powers was previously arrested for a similar incident in Plant City back in 2016.
He has been charged with traveling to meet a minor and lewd and lascivious molestation.
The investigation into the matter is ongoing.