Michael Komoto, 59, was arrested on April 18 after reportedly using the hookup / dating app Grindr to meet and later sexually assault a 15-year-old boy.
According to ABC 7 News in Los Angeles, Komoto met the young man via the app. He told the boy he was 39, and promised a shopping spree in exchange for “making out.” Police say that after the two met, Komoto sexually assaulted the teen at a storefront that doubles as his business and home.
Afterward, the duo traveled to South Coast Plaza, a popular local mall, for the promised shopping spree. There the teen got scared and contacted a friend to pick him up before going to police.
Launched 2009, Grindr claims to be “the largest social networking app for gay, bi, trans, and queer people.” The company’s Terms of Service require that users be at least 18 to create a profile, but there is no real age verification in place.
The boy told Komoto he was 18 when they met online. However, according to police reports in the video below, they say the boy, “comes off to be 13, 14 at the most. Certainly not an 18-year-old.”
Komoto was arrested but posted bail on the night of his arrest. Police believe there may be other victims and are asking anyone with information to step forward. As a police spokesperson said, “The parents need to know what social media sites their kids are on. They need to know what they’re doing. If you have a 15 year old that’s hooking up with an adult [and] you don’t know, that’s strange behavior.”
Grindr has been in the news a lot lately, but not for these kinds of charges. In 2018, Chinese gaming company,
the Kunlun Group, purchased the Los Angeles-based company. This raised concerns with US intelligence experts, who worried the Chinese government might access Grindr’s profiles of American users, which list such private details as sexual orientation and HIV status — information that could be easily exploited. Reports also showed the app had a security issue that could expose users’ precise locations. As a result, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States ordered Kunlun Group to sell Grindr. The sale is still in motion.