• Convicted sex offender banned from internet had six Facebook accounts, records say

    By: Samantha Manning


    ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - A convicted sex offender who wasn’t supposed to be using the internet had at least six active Facebook accounts while under state supervision, according to records.

    The report, obtained by 9 Investigates, said Mitchell Thurston Jr’s social media habits were not on the state’s radar until Eyewitness News contacted them, which could lead to another violation for Thurston.

    Eyewitness News obtained records showing there are at least 4,600 sex offenders and predators in Central Florida who have registered their internet use with the state, meaning they’re online legally. 1,600 of those sex offenders live in Orange County.

    But some sex offenders and predators are banned from the internet altogether as part of the terms of their probation – as was the case for Thurston, who was convicted in 2008 for sexual battery of a child younger than 12. He was arrested again in May after he was allegedly found with two teen girls in bed.

    After two weeks of questioning the Florida Department of Corrections about Thurston’s six Facebook accounts, the department told Channel 9 the state filed “an amended affidavit for violation of probation.”

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    “State probation officers monitor offender according to their court-ordered supervision requirements,” a Department of Corrections spokesperson said in a statement to Channel 9. “At no time during his supervision was Thurston observed using the internet or social media.”

    The state says probation officers do visual inspections where sex offenders and predators live, but a quick search of Thurston’s name on Facebook showed his accounts with his pictures were in plain sight.

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