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BOURBONNAIS — A Bourbonnais man was arrested Tuesday on charges that he contacted a 12-year-old boy in Texas via Roblox, an online game platform, officials said.

The Kankakee County State’s Attorney’s office charged Terrence M. Barto, 23, with indecent solicitation of a child, violation of sex offender registry and grooming on Thursday in Kankakee County Circuit Court.

All three charges are felonies, and a Kankakee County judge set Barto’s bond at $250,000.

A convicted sex offender in Washington state, Barto was required to register as a sex offender here upon his relocation to Bourbonnais. On Jan. 19, Bourbonnais police arrested Barto on a charge of failure to register. 

Barto was released on Jan. 25 after posting the required 10 percent of a $25,000 bond in that case. His next court date is Aug. 30, according to Kankakee County court records.

Police in Jasper County, Texas, contacted Bourbonnais police after one of the boy’s parents discovered evidence on the boy’s phone, Bourbonnais Police Detective Jonathan Boudreau said. 

Police were able to determine Barto as a prime suspect, Boudreau said. 

The online game is available on smartphones, tablets, desktop computers, the Xbox One, and some VR headsets. Players are able to communicate through the game's chat feature, Boudreau said.

According to the game's website, Roblox is a global platform where "millions of people gather together every day to imagine, create, and share experiences with each other in immersive, user-generated 3D worlds." 

The company says, "We continually develop cutting-edge technologies to ensure the Roblox platform remains a safe and fun space for players all over the world."

Among those efforts, it says, is an automated detection feature that ensures all players are wearing appropriate attire within the avatar editor and avatar thumbnails. An avatar is an icon or figure representing a particular person in video games, internet forums, etc. 

Also, parents can limit or disable online chat capabilities and restrict access to a curated list of age‑appropriate games, according to the website.

Players can also report inappropriate chat messages or content by using Roblox’s report abuse system, which is located throughout the site and in-game, the company’s website said.

The Family Online Safety Institute said that although Roblox proactively monitors the content created on its platform, with 70 million active users a month, some offensive communications or user-generated content may slip through the cracks.

"So, it’s important for parents to familiarize themselves with the robust parental controls that Roblox provides to ensure their children are shielded from inappropriate content or communications," the group said on its website. 

Jeff Bonty is a reporter for The Daily Journal. He can be reached at jbonty@daily-journal.com and 815-937-3366.

Reporter

Jeff Bonty has worked for The Daily Journal since September 1986, starting in the sports department before moving to news reporting in 2002. He's a native of Indiana and graduate of Purdue University. His email is jbonty@daily-journal.com.