Man who blackmailed girls into sending explicit images sentenced to 20 years

Washington state man who posed as a teenager online and blackmailed girls as young as 12 across the country to send him sexually explici...

Washington state man who posed as a teenager online and blackmailed girls as young as 12 across the country to send him sexually explicit photos and videos was sentenced to 20 years on Monday in prison, federal authorities said.

The man, Joshua Henry Punt, 39, of Ridgefield, Wash., Pleaded guilty in April to using the Kik and Snapchat messaging apps to connect with girls, forcing them to send him sexually explicit images of them themselves, then use this material to demand more satisfied with the threat to publicly release the images in its possession, the Justice Department said.

Eight victims, aged 12 to 16, have been identified across the United States, including Arkansas, California, Kentucky, Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and West Virginia, according to A declaration from the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington.

“This predatory predator has infiltrated our homes, using electronic access and social media to deceive, pressure and sexually exploit young girls across the country,” said Tessa M. Gorman, the American lawyer for interim, in the press release. “We are warning our children of the ‘dangerous stranger’ they might encounter on the streets – we need to be equally vigilant of those hiding online. “

Colin Fieman, Mr Punt’s lawyer, called the case “a mere tragic situation in all respects”.

“Joshua was the victim of extreme abuse as a child,” said Mr. Fieman, a federal public defender, in an interview Monday night. “He’s schizophrenic. He never had any mental health support. So there were a lot of extenuating and complicating circumstances with the case that the judge carefully considered today.

Investigators identified Punt as the administrator of a child pornography distribution group on Kik, where he demanded that new members share content and banned those who did not, the statement said, adding that an undercover Federal Bureau of Investigation employee found a cache of child pornography after following links posted by Mr. Punt.

According to federal authorities, Punt pleaded guilty in April to producing child pornography, seducing a minor, distributing child pornography and advertising child pornography. He will have to register as a sex offender after serving his prison sentence.

Mr. Punt was arrested by local authorities in May 2019 and charged at the federal level in November of the same year, authorities said.

According to a federal complaint from November 2019, a 15-year-old girl who investigators identified as the first victim said she logged on to Kik with someone claiming to be 17. The person, who investigators said was Mr. Punt, asked three days later for the girl to send him explicit documents. When she did, he asked for more and threatened to distribute the pictures and videos of her in his possession throughout her hometown if she didn’t comply.

Mr Punt, according to the complaint, sent screenshots to the girl of an apparent group chat from Kik, in which he shared his images, as well as group members’ reactions. In response, according to the complaint, the girl created and uploaded more sexually explicit content of herself “to prevent her from making her performances public.”

When Mr. Punt did not stop harassing the girl, continued to threaten her and demanded more materials, she and her parents contacted the New York State Police and the FBI in December 2018, who have started to investigate.

“Mr. Punt is a prime example of what is called a ‘sextortionist’,” Donald Voiret, an FBI agent, said in the statement. “While he serves a sentence in a federal penitentiary for his actions, I encourage parents around the world to talk to their children about the risks of online predators.”

In a sentencing hearing on Monday, United States District Court Judge Benjamin H. Settle said the damage Mr Punt inflicted would last for decades, “spilling over into lives,” according to the Minister. communicated.

He also addressed Mr. Punt directly: “You could see the pain in these girls, and you kept doing it – to eight precious and innocent young girls – you tortured them.”

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Newsrust - US Top News: Man who blackmailed girls into sending explicit images sentenced to 20 years
Man who blackmailed girls into sending explicit images sentenced to 20 years
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