A months-long investigation into reports of Southern Oregon girls as young as 6 getting sexually explicit messages from a man in Talent led to the arrest of 21-year-old Zachariah Pergish Griffin last week.

A months-long investigation into reports of Southern Oregon girls as young as 6 getting sexually explicit messages from a man in Talent led to the arrest of 21-year-old Zachariah Pergish Griffin last week.

The Southern Oregon High Tech Crimes Task Force, which investigates Internet crimes against children, reported Monday that Griffin was arrested Thursday on four counts each of first- and second-degree encouraging child sexual abuse, two counts of second-degree online sexual corruption of a child, and a charge of second-degree attempted, online sexual corruption of a child. A Jackson County grand jury had indicted him on those charges a week earlier, the task force reported in a news release. On Monday, Griffin remained lodged in the Jackson County Jail on $500,000 bail.

In June, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children notified the local task force that a person in Talent had been sending sexually explicit messages to girls across Southern Oregon via Facebook and MySpace.

Three girls — an 11-year-old in Lake County, a 10-year-old in Medford and a 6-year-old in Grants Pass — were found to have received messages originating from accounts linked to Griffin and his Talent home, authorities said.

On Oct. 20, task force investigators served a search warrant at Griffin's home, seizing multiple items of "digital evidence," said Lt. Josh Moulin, head of the task force.

A forensic examination found evidence of the online communications, as well as videos of children being sexually abused, he said.

Moulin said Griffin apparently hadn't met any of the girls and the images of abuse didn't involve local children.

"This case exemplifies the fact that there are people here who go online seeking children for sexual contact," he said.

Moulin said his investigators learned of the case when one of the girls Griffin is accused of contacting told her parents about the message she got, and her parents contacted the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which in turn notified local authorities.

"Sexual predators go to where kids are and that's social networks," he said.

He noted that Facebook, MySpace and many other sites require users to be 13 or older, in part to protect young children.

However, parents still need to make sure their kids are following rules set by the sites and their families. They should review kids' pages to ensure that personal information is properly protected and make sure children and teens know they should tell an adult if they get suspicious messages or ones that make them uncomfortable.

Reach reporter Anita Burke at 541-776-4485, or e-mail aburke@mailtribune.com.