Strasburg police are accusing a Shenandoah County man of sexually assaulting a girl he met through a social media site in May.
A grand jury handed up an indictment Wednesday charging Nicholas Zanatto with aggravated sexual battery of a child under the age of 13. Police arrested Zanatto, 18, of Strasburg, and took him to the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail where he remains held without bond. Zanatto is scheduled to appear in Shenandoah County Circuit Court on Wednesday.
Chief Wayne Sager alerted parents about the dangers children face when they use social media.
“This is a moment of awareness for all parents regarding social media ... monitoring what your child is doing on his or her phone is of utmost importance,” Sager said Monday. “I know parents try to balance privacy with their children but we highly recommend that you know what apps your child is using.
“Know about those apps and know what type of communication is going on in those apps and monitoring that for sure,” Sager added. “This is a sad situation.”
Police took a report of an incident that occurred on May 5 at the Strasburg Town Park, according to information from Sager. Zanatto made contact with a 12-year-old girl through Snapchat and they arranged to meet. Both parties met at the park where police accuse Zanatto of fondling the girl, Sager said. No sexual penetration occurred during the meeting, Sager said. Neither the suspect nor the girl knew each other prior to their communication on Snapchat, Sager said.
Town police officer M. Bansal took the report and contacted the Shenandoah County Department of Social Services because of the girl’s age. Police turned the case over to investigator John Magdinec for further investigation.