Texas arrests seven sex offenders based on MySpace data

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said Thursday that police in the state have arrested six convicted sex offenders for violating parole by posting online profiles on MySpace.com. The social networking site provided data on the profiles to the attorney general.

The arrests are the result of what the state is calling the first crackdown in the country on sex offenders stemming from data that MySpace provided to several state attorneys general in May.

MySpace had first refused the request from attorneys general in eight states to turn over the names of convicted sex offenders who had registered on its site, but relented when the officials subpoenaed the data.

The state arrested six previously convicted sex offenders who activated MySpace accounts in violation of parole or probation requirements that prohibited them from using the Internet, the Texas attorney general's office said. A seventh sex offender with a MySpace profile was arrested for failing to register as a sex offender.

Abbott highlighted the arrest of Patrick Joseph Blevins on June 7 in Houston as demonstrating the magnitude of the problem with sex offenders using MySpace.

Blevins, he said, is a habitual sex offender with multiple arrests in two states. Blevins had served eight years in prison because of a 1996 conviction of indecency with a child because of sexual contact.

"Mr. Blevins' arrest highlights the gravity and the urgency of the situation we are dealing with," Abbott said. "These predators ... will stop at nothing to find their next victims."

MySpace, he added, is a magnet for sex offenders, which they can use as a "buffet of children where they can target their next victims."

The Cyber Crimes Unit, Abbott said, has arrested 93 people in Texas who have been lured into sting operations in which they arranged online to meet in person with people they believed to be minor children who were actually members of the unit, he added.

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