Attorney general: Mars man an online sex predator
In the real world, William R. Ainsworth was a used car salesman from Mars with a wife and two kids.
On the Internet, he took on the personas of two 15-year-old runaways living as surfers in Florida and a Pittsburgh-area "Sugar Daddy" willing to send money to one in return for sex with the young girls who friended him on Facebook, state Attorney General Linda Kelly announced on Friday.
Ainsworth, 53, used the two young personas to target girls between 13 and 15 who were stressed because their parents were in a custody dispute or because their peers were harassing them, prosecutors said. Some victims were 12 when he first contacted them.
"He made them feel good about themselves," Kelly said. "He made them like him. He made himself part of their lives."
State prosecutors charged Ainsworth with 68 counts of criminal solicitation, child pornography and unlawful contact with minors. He is in the Butler County Prison on $100,000 bail, according to county court records.
Assistant public defender Terri Schultz said she and Ainsworth are surprised at the number of charges he's facing.
"At this point, he's maintaining his innocence," Schultz said. "He has a wife and daughters. It's very difficult for them."
Ainsworth formerly owned a business called the Six Pack Grill in Butler, she said.
"Prior to this, my client has not had even a speeding ticket," Schultz said. "He's a very hardworking individual with no prior record."
A man answering the door at his split-level home on a private drive declined to comment. Reached by phone, Brenda Ainsworth declined to talk about her husband's arrest.
"I have young girls I'm trying to protect," she said. "We are the victims, too. None of us knew what was going on."
Police arrested Ainsworth in September when he went to the home of a 14-year-old Butler County girl to have sex, Kelly said.
He originally tried to set up the meeting in January 2011. The girl's family found out about the aborted meeting and contacted police, Kelly said. Ainsworth had sex with another underage girl in the months afterward, and during his 18-month scheme, he persuaded at least five girls to send him nude or sexually explicit photos of themselves, Kelly said.
Ainsworth has been jailed since his September arrest. The 13 felonies from that arrest will be merged with the 68 new felony charges filed on Thursday.
Investigators interviewed more than 30 children in Allegheny, Beaver and Butler counties, as well as some who now live in West Virginia, Kelly said. William Caye, the senior deputy attorney general prosecuting the case, said there were more than seven victims, but he declined to say how many the office identified.
Ainsworth worked for Shults Ford for about 20 years, said owner Richard Bazzy. He fired Ainsworth from his sales manager job in 2005 because he could not get along with people, but he had no inkling of a secret life.
"Honestly, I'm shocked," Bazzy said. "He was a normal guy, as normal as anyone would be. He exhibited none of those qualities."
The charges against Ainsworth are sickening and shocking to everyone who knew him, he said.
"I feel bad for his kids and wife," Bazzy said. "Our hearts go out to his family, not to him."
Kelly said the investigation started with Ainsworth's arrest and then worked backward to uncover his "intricate web of false Facebook identities."
Ainsworth created fake profiles for runaway surfers "Bill Cano" and "Anthony 'Rip' Navari." After Cano built up more than 600 Facebook friends, mostly young girls, Navari reported that Cano had been attacked by a group of people and died of his injuries, Kelly said.
"This fake death of Cano triggered an outpouring of sympathy and grief in this group of young Facebook users," she said.
Ainsworth used that grief to form deeper relationships between the girls and the Navari persona, Kelly said.
Ainsworth then introduced the girls via email or other online contact to "Glenn Keefer," a Pittsburgh-area adult who identified himself as a "Sugardaddy looking for Sugarbabies." Through that persona, Ainsworth told girls that if they had sex with him, he would send money to Navari either to help him with his living expenses or so that he could buy the girls a plane ticket to join him in Florida, Kelly said.Additional Information:
Tips for parents to protect their children from online sex predators:
• Keep up with the technology, particularly social networking sites that children are using and what they're posting to those sites.
• Monitor kids' smartphones, which provide increased access to sites while they're outside the home, as well as the home computer.
• Encourage children to tell a trusted adult if someone online attempts sexual discussions, requests photos or videos or tries to arrange a face-to-face meeting.
• Report suspicious activity by clicking here or by calling the Child Predator Hotline at 1-800-385-1044.