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Published September 27 2012

Mother of Fargo sex assault victim urges monitoring online activity

FARGO – The mother of a 13-year-old girl who police say was sexually assaulted Sunday at a party in south Fargo is warning other parents to pay close attention to their children’s online activity.

The woman said her daughter was contacted on Facebook by her 19-year-old alleged attacker within two weeks of the incident.

Charges filed this week in Cass County District Court allege that Jermaine Quincy Jones and his brother Tremaine Quincy Jones, both 19, took the girl and her 13-year-old friend out drinking and to an apartment party where the men allegedly sexually assaulted them.

The girl’s mother, who isn’t being named in order to protect her daughter’s identity, said she didn’t realize her daughter had been in contact with Jermaine Jones until after the incident. Upon closer inspection, she discovered that her daughter’s Facebook page listed her year of birth as 1995, when in fact she was born in 1998 – making her appear older, but still a minor.

“A lot of these little girls in this day and age, they want to be grown-ups,” she said. “They see the TV, they want to wear the makeup, they want to be grown. And they don’t understand by doing that, they’re putting themselves in adult situations. And it’s just sad that something like this has to happen before we take notice of that.”

The mother said her daughter sneaked out of their apartment on the night of the incident. She said she learned afterward from her daughter that the two 13-year-old girls had hung out with the Jones brothers a few days earlier.

“She said she thought they were nice,” she said.

According to the Fargo Police Department’s report, the brothers told police that they had given alcohol to the girls and had sex with them but believed they were older.

State law regarding sex offenses considers it an affirmative defense if the defendant “reasonably believed the victim to be an adult.” However, Assistant Cass County State’s Attorney Ryan Younggren said that doesn’t apply in this case because as the law also states, “When the criminality of conduct depends on a child’s being below the age of fifteen, it is no defense that the actor did not know the child’s age, or reasonably believed the child to be older than fourteen.”

The mother who spoke anonymously for this story urged parents to monitor what websites their children are visiting, know their passwords, know who they’re talking to and pay close attention to the information they’re sharing in cyberspace.

“Because the nicest face could be a monster. You have no idea in this day and age,” she said.

Younggren agreed.

“I have a lot of cases where people put their names and faces out there to be older than they are – or sometimes younger – and that’s a legit concern,” he said.

Fargo Police Lt. Joel Vettel also recommended parents allow their kids to use the computer only in a common area where they can be monitored, and to be friends with their kids on Facebook to keep tabs on their activity.

Jermaine Jones faces up to life in prison without parole if convicted of the Class AA felony gross sexual imposition charge against him. Tremaine Jones is charged with Class A felony GSI, which carries a maximum of 20 years and a $10,000 fine.

They remained in the Cass County Jail on Thursday with cash-only bail set at $50,000.

The police report identifies the men as brothers, as does Tremaine Jones’ application for a public defender, but they aren’t twins. Their birthdates are six weeks apart.

A message left for the men with jail staff was not returned.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528