CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A survivor of an Internet predator says she’s spent more than a decade traveling the country and talking to kids about the many dangers that are lurking online.
“It’s always been about the one,” Alicia Kozakiewicz said of “The Alicia Project.” “If I could save one child, one family, from going through what my family did then it’s entirely worth it.”
Kozakiewicz was a guest on Wednesday’s MetroNews “Talkline” — a day after Ernest Michael Roach, 36, of Racine, Oh., was formally charged with the murder of Ericka Brown, 16, of Cross Lanes. Brown’s body was found along the Ohio River in Portland, Oh. on Aug. 30, 20 days after she was reported missing.
Additionally, Roach was charged separately in U.S. District Court with crossing state lines to have sex with a minor. A preliminary hearing on that charge was scheduled for Thursday.
Federal court documents showed Roach met Brown by answering personal ads she’d posted on Craigslist in both July and August. He told investigators he met Brown twice for sex — the last time being the night before she was reported missing on Aug. 10.
Kozakiewicz called Brown’s story “very heartbreaking.”
On New Year’s Day in 2002, Kozakiewicz, then 13, was abducted outside of her Pittsburgh home.
She was held hostage, sexually assaulted and tortured over four days by a man, age 38, she had met in a Yahoo chat room. She said that man had groomed her over months, through online chats, to the point where she considered him a trusted friend.
While being held captive, she was chained to the floor in a Virginia townhouse with a collar around her neck. It was there that a team of FBI agents found her on Jan. 4, 2002 after receiving a tip about and tracing a video her kidnapper had posted online to brag about capturing a teenager.
Kozakiewicz created “The Alicia Project” in the years following her abduction to educate others about Internet safety.
Alicia’s full list of Internet Safety Tips is available here.
For her, it’s a personal effort. “This happened to me. I was a normal, average kid and I never thought anything like this could possibly ever happen and yet, there I was, being held captive by a monster and fighting for my life,” Kozakiewicz said.