Parents caution children who use social media after man arrested in 2019 statutory rape incident

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A man is behind bars after allegedly raping an underage girl in Memphis.

On Sept. 20, 2019, Memphis police responded to a sexual assault call in the 4300 block of Zelda Avenue.

A 17-year-old girl told officers she had used Facebook Messenger to communicate with who she thought was a 15-year-old friend and the pair agreed to date, according to an affidavit.

Police said another man, Robert Carpenter, 39, had the friend’s phone and asked the victim to skip school to meet him.

On Aug. 15, the teen skipped school to meet up.

Carpenter then told her he was the one she was communicating with on Facebook. The victim told him her age, and he told her to tell his friends she was 18, according to the affidavit.

Carpenter then had sex with the victim inside a shed at the back of his friend’s house, according to the affidavit.

The teen positively identified Carpenter in a photo lineup. He’s charged with Aggravated Statutory Rape.

He’s scheduled to appear in court Nov. 12, records show.

Across from the house where the incident allegedly took place, a pair of parents gave their thoughts and how moms and dad can better protect their children.

“Keep an eye on all their socials, check their messages, check with the posting, because you can always find little hidden things you know how kids are nowadays,” said a mother in the Memphis neighborhood.

An affidavit claims 39-year-old Robert Carpenter pretended to be the victim’s younger friend over Facebook Messenger before the alleged assault.

Memphis Parent James Marsh said you can never be too careful with your kids, especially on social media.

“I’ve seen that happen a lot around here,” said Marsh. “People you think you’re close to and they’re not really who they say they are.”

Marsh said he and his wife have been in uncomfortable situations like this before.

“We were living across the street from this guy, and he ended up being a child molester,” said Marsh.

Parents said these tips could help other parents prevent situations like this one dating back to 2019.

Keep track of who you and your children associate with. Family and friends included.

Monitor what your kids do online.

Marsh and his wife keep track of their kids with their devices.

He said it makes him feel more comfortable as a parent.

“It’s what we’re there for. it’s our jobs to be there as parents, so that’s what I’m gonna do: my job,” said Marsh.

The family mentioned the household has still been a problem to this day, even though Carpenter is behind bars.