Yakima deputies: Facebook friendship leads to child rape

Yakima deputies: Facebook friendship leads to child rape
GRANGER, Wash. -- A Lower Valley man is behind bars after police say a Facebook friendship led to child rape.

"It's a case where a 19-year-old male ended up having sexual contact with a 12-year-old female," said Yakima County Sheriff's Sergeant Robert Udell.

Investigators say it all started on Facebook.

"It is another unfortunate case of the internet allowing a young person to basically be duped into something she maybe would have never done on their own," said Udell.

Deputies say 19-year-old Tyler Hendren first contacted the girl by sending her a message on Facebook and that their online chatting eventually led to text messages.

But, the girl should have never been on the social media website; Facebook's own rules require users to be at least 13.

Court documents show the 12-year-old lied about her age on the site and told Hendren she was 13.

Records indicate he acknowledged "he could be in trouble for even talking to her."

A week before Christmas, investigators say their online and text message conversations led to an encounter.

According to detectives, the 12 year-old girl admitted to sneaking out of her home and getting picked up by Hendren before going back to his place.

Deputies say the two had sex in his family's RV and their alleged encounter was discovered by the girl's mother.

To get all sides KIMA went to Hendren's home near Granger and sat down with his father.

"Total surprise, there's just no way," said Randy Hendren.

Surprised, yet supportive of his son. He thinks the girl told a bigger lie about her age but it's his son who's in trouble.

Randy described his son as mellow and said the family was shocked at the allegations.

"How do you sleep? You know you worry about your kids," said Hendren.

"As far as law enforcement, laws, regulations catching up; is it sort of a grey area when it comes to this kind of case?" KIMA asked.

"It is. It hasn't caught up," said Udell.

Regardless of whether she lied or not, the seven-year difference puts the 19-year-old on the hook for rape.

A class A felony with serious consequences though Tyler Hendren hasn't been formally charged.

Investigators say the counts will likely be child rape and kidnapping and bail is set at $150,000.

He's due back in court in a few weeks.