New charges filed against Bath man accused of using Facebook to meet underage girls

Posted Feb. 11, 2012, at 11:39 a.m.
Last modified Feb. 12, 2012, at 6:03 p.m.
Andrew Thomas Mank
Andrew Thomas Mank

HARPSWELL, Maine — A Bath man charged with several counts of sexual abuse of a minor by Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Department in January was arrested Thursday by Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department and charged with four additional counts of sexual abuse of minors.

The new arrests stem from the investigation launched by Sagadahoc County detectives. That probe determined that Andrew Thomas Mank, 21, of Bath allegedly used Facebook and other social networks to meet underage girls.

Mank was arrested Thursday and charged with four Class D counts of sexual abuse of minors, according to a press release issued by the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department.

“The investigation revealed that Mank had committed crimes in Harpswell [Cumberland County] during the summer of 2011,” the release states.

The investigation by Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department detectives alleges that Mank’s two victims were both younger than 15 at the time the crimes were committed. Mank knew both alleged victims.

On Jan. 10, the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Department summoned Mank, charging him with 15 counts of sexual abuse of a minor and one count of criminal restraint — all Class D crimes — according to Chief Deputy Brett Strout.

At the time, Strout said the alleged charges involved a 14-year-old female and took place between March and November 2011 in West Bath and Topsham.

Sagadahoc Detective Sgt. John Burne investigated the case, in collaboration with Sgt. Martin Rinaldi of the Brunswick Police Department.

After Mank’s summonses in January, Strout said Burne was working with the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department, which was expected to have pending charges involving two other alleged victims in Harpswell.

Burne told The Times Record that Mank had used social media and Internet sites, such as Facebook, to meet the young girls and start a relationship with them.

Capt. Don Goulet confirmed Friday that Mank also met the victims involved in Cumberland County’s investigation through social media.
Goulet said Burne contacted him after discovering during the course of his investigation last month that Mank might have committed additional offenses in Harpswell, which is in Cumberland County. As a result, Goulet said the case was assigned to Detective Gerard Brady.

After West Bath District Court issued a warrant Thursday for the new charges for incidents that allegedly occurred in Cumberland County, Mank turned himself in Thursday at the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Department in Bath.

A Cumberland County detective picked up Mank in Bath and took him to Cumberland County Jail. As of early Friday afternoon, Mank had posted bail and was no longer confined.

While using social media, with its networking capacity, as a way to locate victims of sexual abuse is not an epidemic, Goulet said, “it wasn’t a piece of the crime we were dealing with 10 years ago. So it is something that we obviously have been dealing with,” since social media have become widely used.

“I’m sure more [crimes related to online social networking] are happening that we don’t know about,” involving victims who don’t come forward because there is a percentage of people who do not come forward in any circumstance of sexual assault, Goulet said.

Tips for parents to help prevent this type of crime from occurring are not new, Goulet said. They include making sure that children who use Facebook “friend” their parents.

Goulet also suggests placing a home computer in a family area where parents can easily monitor their children’s online dealings.

“And if you question anything, talk to your child,” Goulet said. “Part of it is the responsibility of the parent to make sure that they’re involved and know what their kids are doing.”

A new trend that has been covered in national news, Goulet said, is that of kids moving from Facebook to Twitter because their parents monitor their Facebook activity, yet many parents don’t yet understand how Twitter works. Again, Goulet advised, “It’s about asking a lot of good questions as a parent.”

Anyone with information about these or additional crimes within Cumberland County can call Detective Sgt. James Estabrook at 774-1444, ext. 2108.

Anyone with information related to the crimes investigated by Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Department, can contact Detective Sgt. John Burne at 386-5827.

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