Man chats with Polk "teens" online, now in Polk jail | News
Bartow, FL- A Massachusetts junior hockey coach, accused of soliciting two Polk County teen boys, has been brought to Bartow and booked into jail. Anthony DeSilva made his first appearance in court Saturday morning. The judge set $5,000 bail on each count totalling $50,000 bail for all charges.
Detectives with the Polk County Sheriff's Office said DeSilva was arrested because of a Lakeland mother who saw inappropriate messages on her son's Facebook page and went to authorities about it.
That woman, who doesn't want to be named, said her 16-year-old son friended DeSilva because of a mutual friend. She spoke to the media because she wants parents to know that they need to be involved in what their children are doing online.
"They may not exactly like you right now, but they're going to love you later for it," said the mother.
She adds, it only took a few days before she went to authorities after seeing the messages. Detectives were already involved when her son told her about them a few days later.
"I went ahead and we talked about it and then I let him know that I had went to authorities, and that they would be taking over, and that I was just plain proud of him for taking the right step," said the mother.
According to authorities, they started investigating DeSilva back in July, after the mother brought the messages to their attention. They then got permission to pose as the 16-year-old and also another boy the teen was friends with.
Detectives said DeSilva thought he was chatting with the teen boys, but was instead talking to undercover detectives. The conversations started on Facebook, then went to email and texts.
Investigators said DeSilva sent a nude picture of himself, had graphic chats with the "teens" and asked them to send naked pictures of themselves too.
DeSilva was arrested at his parents' house, where he lives, in Acushnet on Wednesday. He is a coach and owner of the Massachusetts Maple Leafs, a hockey team with players 20-years-old and younger.
The teen's mother said it scares her to know that DeSilva was constantly around children. She adds though, she is not angry at him, but is glad he is off the streets.
"I'm just very happy that my son is safe. And I hope that whatever the guy's challenges are that he can go ahead and deal with those," said the Lakeland mother.
The mother adds that she is praying for DeSilva and his family.
DeSilva is being charged with 10 counts of Use of Computer to Seduce a Child and one count of Transmission of Material Harmful to a Child.