Rapid City, SD
A Rapid City woman charged with sexually abusing a teenage boy may have been "grooming" her victim.
Prosecutors say April Solles used unusual gifts to get close to her alleged victim.
Solles is charged with having a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old boy, but prosecutors say she gave gifts to more than one teen.
The 28-year-old remains in the Pennington County jail after a judge refused to lower her bond on Monday. It's a decision that may have been affected by new information.
"We have received allegations that the defendant has given minor children, meaning under the age of 18, tattoos, homemade tattoos," Pennington County Deputy State's Attorney Tracey Decker said.
The lead prosecutor in the case claims that Solles tattooed both the alleged victim and another young boy to groom, or prepare, them for sexual abuse. It's a process she sees often.
"We see that a lot in cases with ongoing child sexual abuse. It's very common," Decker said.
"Unless a child is very young, that's part of the victimization process is somebody has to groom the victim," family counselor Dede Farrar said.
But it's a process that doesn't usually begin with lavish gifts.
"It starts as very innocent behaviors that wouldn't raise a red flag for the child or probably anybody," Farrar said.
Once a level of trust is established, the predator gets closer to their victim.
"They will find ways to spend time with the victim and they will find ways to get close to that victim, whether it's physically or emotionally or both," Farrar said.
Predators also look for the most vulnerable victims, kids who aren't well supervised or are having issues at home. But Farrar says that parents can make all the difference in cases like this.
"The best prevention is parents and caregivers being completely involved with their children's lives and knowing what's going on. Where are they? Who are they with? They should meet the people that their children are spending time with," Farrar said.
Solles will be back in court February 13. At this time, she faces no new charges as a result of the alleged "grooming."