No matter how much pride you have in being an anime fan and/or visiting conventions, stories such as this will make you feel embarrassed to admit to it.
Back in February 2010, a 34-year-old man coerced a minor into sexual acts over the course of the convention. The girl was 13 years old at the time.
34-year-old Michael Allen Alper met the girl first over Facebook and through TXT messaging before meeting with the girl for sex the next month. Cleverly, he introduced himself under the pseudonym Michael Allen. This passed Wednesday, he pleaded guilty to “to coercing and enticing a minor to engage in criminal sexual activity.”
Apparently the victim didn’t discover who the guy was until months after the fact…when she stumbled upon his profile in the sex offender registry. It wasn’t even his first offense, either; he already had a statutory rape conviction under his belt from 2003, for which he served three years in prison (all but six months suspended) with three additional years probation. He had been clear of probation for about a month before finding the aforementioned 13-year-old.
Alper is looking to serve at least 10-14 years in prison. His sentencing, however, won’t happen until October 28th.
Embarrassed by this news, Katsucon Entertainment, Inc. issued a statement saying that while they do indeed have numerous security measures in place to protect the convention goers, including parental consent forms for activities for younger attendees and the staff and venue security working as one, things like this do unfortunately happen, and predators aren’t discovered until it’s too late. Fortunately, Katsucon has promised to step up security measures, including running background checks on pre-registrations against local, state and federal sex offender registries to make sure incidents like this don’t happen again.