- Brent Brown, a 39-year-old man, has been accused of kidnapping and raping student Madelyn Allen.
- Allen was found covered in coal dust after being missing for five days, authorities said.
- Brown reportedly met Allen through the messaging app Kik, which has been used by predators before.
The man accused of kidnapping and raping student Madelyn Allen met her through the messaging platform Kik, according to the indictment obtained by Insider.
Kik is an anonymous platform that has been used by predators in the past to contact young victims and exchange explicit images. Forbes reported it had a “huge child exploitation problem” in 2017 due to users’ anonymity and the platform’s lack of action in deleting offenders’ profiles.
Brent Brown, 39, was arrested on Saturday after Allen was found in his basement, naked and covered in coal dust, authorities said. She had been missing for five days. Brown was charged with six felonies, including rape, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault, and obstructing justice, according to the indictment, which was filed in Utah’s Sixth District Court. He told investigators that his encounters with Allen were consensual.
In 2018, a BBC investigation found that Kik had been involved in 1,100 child sexual abuse cases in the previous five years.
“We take online safety very seriously, and we’re constantly assessing and improving our trust and safety measures,” Kik told the BBC in a statement at the time, adding that it would continue to “provide resources to parents and strengthen relationships with law enforcement and safety-focused organisations.”
Kik did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment for this article.
In February, a convicted pedophile used the app to upload footage of himself abusing a child, the Daily Mail reported. Lewis Tupper, a 25-year-old man from West Yorkshire in the United Kingdom, was sentenced to 10 years in jail for uploading videos and photos of him molesting an underage girl.
The same platform where investigators said Brown and Allen met was also used by Nathan Larson, a self-professed pedophile and white supremacist whom authorities said kidnapped a 12-year-old girl in December 2020.
Larson, who had advocated for legalizing child porn, was charged with kidnapping, child abduction, soliciting child pornography from a minor, and meeting a child for the intention of sex, among other things.
An indictment by the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office in California, previously obtained by Insider, said Larson used Kik, alongside other messaging sites and apps, to meet and groom his victim.
The state of California has since dismissed their charges, state court records show, as the US Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of California took over the investigation earlier this year. He was indicted on five federal charges: kidnapping, sexual exploitation of a minor, receipt and distribution of child pornography, interstate transportation of an individual to engage in illegal sexual activity, and coercion and enticement of a minor.
US court records show that Larson is next due in court in January for a competency hearing. Larson’s attorney did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.