Soldier charged with rape after befriending teen online

Soldier charged with rape after befriending teen online (Image 1)

An Iraq war veteran is facing aggravated statutory rape charges in connection with a relationship Murfreesboro Police said he had with a 14-year-old girl.

According to police, Christopher Bonick, 28, met the girl in an Internet chat room while he was deployed in Iraq. The two communicated via the web and when he returned to Nashville from deployment the two met.

Investigators said Bonick picked the girl up from school one day in October 2011 and took her to the Best Western on Chaffin Place in Murfreesboro. Police said the two had sex in a room in the hotel.

In January 2012, Murfreesboro police got a tip that Bonick had sex with the girl. Detectives began investigating and they said Bonick admitted to having sex with the girl.

As part of the investigation police searched Bonick's Nashville home, computer and cell phone. Evidence of the relationship was found, according to a police report.

Before officers could arrest Bonick he fled the state. He was arrested in Fort Smith, Arkansas during a routine traffic stop. Officers there found the outstanding warrant for Bonick.

Federal authorities are also investigating Bonick's relationships online, because he had profiles on several dating websites. Federal investigators think there may be other underage girls in other states that had sexual contact with Bonick.

Youth Action Director for Oasis Center Deniece Ferguson said parents have to get involved with their children's social media and Internet activity to help prevent incidents like Bonick's.

“I think there is an assumption of safety and there should be an assumption of danger,” she said. “The Internet has removed that concept of stranger danger. When I was growing up parents warned you about not talking to strangers.”

Ferguson said parents should start accounts on the social media web sites their children use to help monitor the activity. She also said parents should question who their children communicate with and how well they know the person.

“Asking questions like who is that, where do you know them from, when is the last time you saw them can gauge how much of a relationship or how close they are,” she said. “Parents should not assume that all the young people your child is friends with are the same age.”

Ferguson also said parents should explain the risks involved in sexting and other inappropriate actions.

“Because it is not visibly in front of you there is an assumption that you are safe,” she said. “Often times young people need reminders not to share certain information, not to identify where you go to school or identify the sports teams you play for.”

Bonick remains in Rutherford County's Detention Center on $40,000 bond. He is set to appear in front of a judge on April 16, 2012


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