uperman apprehended the Toyman near Metropolis Park late yesterday, foiling an attempt to kidnap a young child. Ten-year-old Sally Johnson narrowly avoided being kidnapped by the Toyman. She had realized too late that the person that she met while in an online chatroom was actually a deadly villain.
Sally met "Percy" in a monitored chatroom called "KidChat," which is part of LexOnLine. Paula Nicholls, a representative for the popular online service stated, "All of LexOnLine's chatrooms are monitored indirectly, but if two people were to meet in a chatroom such as KidChat, and then exchange private e-mails from one account to another, those private e-mails are not monitored."
Using her family's computer in her father's study, Sally logged onto the Internet with her own LexOnLine account. Linda Johnson, Sally's mother, said, "She liked to get on the computer and talk with her friends." But what Sally's parents never knew was that "Percy," one of the many people she has met in chatrooms, was Winslow Percival Schott, the dangerous super villain known as the Toyman.
The truth was revealed after the police obtained the contents of the private e-mails from the LexOnLine archives. Apparently, Schott used the screen name "Percy@LexOnLine" to enter chatrooms and search for unsuspecting and trusting children to exploit. Schott and Sally exchanged e-mails for two weeks after meeting in the KidChat chatroom. Eventually, Schott convinced Sally to meet him at the playground in Metropolis Park. Sally had e-mailed a recent photo of herself so that "Percy" would recognize her, and Schott had e-mailed a photo of an as yet unidentified young boy to continue his charade. Thus, one of Metropolis's most colorful and recognizable villains was able to pass as an innocent young boy.
Sally went to Metropolis Park expecting to meet her friend "Percy," but instead was approached by the Toyman, who tried to abduct her. Luckily, Superman was in the neighborhood, and heard her cries for help as she was dragged into the woods. The Man of Steel acted swiftly, and Schott is now once again behind bars.
When questioned about LexOnLine's efforts to protect children from online predators, Ms. Nicholls responded: "Here at LexOnLine, we do our best to protect children from unwanted material and influences in chatrooms and on the World Wide Web. Our parental controls are built in to our service for exactly that purpose. In addition, there are a number of other filters and controls that are available to help guide children through the Internet. These are very reliable methods that can assist parents and teachers in coordinating children's use of the Internet. But as with many things involving children, it's also very important for the parents not to rely on other people, or on parental controls, to safeguard their kids. Just as when you watch your children when they're playing at the playground, you should supervise them when they're playing on the Internet."
Schott is being held at Metropolis City Jail pending formal charges of assault and endangering the welfare of a minor. Superman was unavailable for comment.