EXCLUSIVE: Roo Powell, child advocate and founder of the non-profit Safe from Online Sex Abuse, will help law enforcement identify some of the internet’s most dangerous child predators in Discovery+’s new docuseries, Undercover Underage.
Executive produced by Ron Simon, Undercover Underage follows the SOSA team in real time as they transform Powell, a 38-year-old mother of three, into a teen persona and work to reveal the true identities of the men who reach out to her. It’s a race against time to identify the suspects before they discover Powell herself is not who she claims to be. The docuseries seeks to give insight into how SOSA works to successfully track down some of the internet’s most dangerous child predators.
The series also features strategic social media lead, Shelby Chikazawa; photographer and visuals lead, Matt Monath; writer and story developer, Avalon Esposito; research lead Kelly Becker; and law enforcement officer, Sergeant Mark Suda, who create and operate three separate personas of fictitious, underage girls, each living unrelated lives in different cities across the country. Once adults engage with Powell’s underage decoys — which sometimes takes only minutes — the team communicates with them via texts, calls, and even distressing video chats to gather pieces of information about their real identities. Once the team at SOSA has enough information for a positive identification, they turn over their findings to law enforcement. With suspected predators ranging from school employees to high-profile community figures, it’s a race against the clock to get these individuals on law enforcement’s radar to keep them from continuing their crimes.
“Online sexual abuse and exploitation can happen quickly and quietly. A minor can be alone in their room and someone can be abusing them via their phone 2,000 miles away,” said Powell. “And complicating matters is the fact that this kind of abuse isn’t as well known, leaving a lot of kids and teens feeling confused, ashamed, and isolated. My hope is through broadening awareness with this show, we can prevent sex abuse and exploitation of children online, as well as empower parents and caregivers to be a compassionate support system for kids in their communities.”
“The online world can be a perilous space for children and we are so grateful for the work SOSA does to ensure that kids can feel, and be, safer on the internet, ” added Jason Sarlanis, President of Crime and Investigative Content. “In Undercover Underage we embed with Roo and her team to offer a harrowing, first-hand look at how they operate. Their mission to expose the dangers lurking online is intense, dangerous, and critical… now more than ever. The realities they uncover are startling and the parents of every internet connected child need to watch this show.”
The six-part true crime series will make its debut on Discovery+ starting Tuesday, November 2. New episodes will stream every Tuesday.
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