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Alleged assault brings suit against MySpace.com

Associated Press

The social networking Web site MySpace.com, which has become a lightning rod for warnings about online sexual predators, was sued Monday for $30 million by a 14-year-old girl who says she was sexually assaulted by another MySpace user.

The lawsuit filed in Travis County District Court accuses the Web site, which has more than 72 million registered users, of having "absolutely no meaningful protections or security measures to protect underage users."

In a statement, the Web site said it is "committed" to the safety of its members.

The suit was brought by an Austin girl who alleges that Pete Solis, 19, lied in his MySpace profile about being a senior on the football team to gain her trust and phone number.

Solis, who lives in the Austin suburb of Buda, was arrested on May 19 on a charge of sexual assault of a child.

"(MySpace) has got to take this seriously," said attorney Carl Barry, who's representing the girl and her mother.

Solis is also named in the suit along with News Corp., which owns MySpace. Solis could not be immediately reached by The Associated Press late Monday.

"We take aggressive measures to protect our members," said Hemanshu Nigam, chief security officer for MySpace.com. "Ultimately, Internet safety is a shared responsibility. We encourage everyone on the Internet to engage in smart Web practices and have open family dialogue about how to apply offline lessons in the online world."

Barry said he believed the lawsuit was the first of its kind against the cult phenomenon, which has seen rapid growth since being bought by News Corp. last year for $580 million.

The suit alleges that MySpace has "no financial incentive to institute any meaningful security measures" because it might block access to the young demographic the site largely attracts.

MySpace.com is a social networking Web site that lets users post photos, blogs and journals. There have been scattered accounts of sexual predators targeting minors they met through the site.
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