A person in Washington State who posed as a teen on-line and blackmailed ladies as younger as 12 throughout the nation to ship him sexually express photographs and movies was sentenced on Monday to twenty years in jail, the federal authorities mentioned.
The person, Joshua Henry Punt, 39, of Ridgefield, Wash., pleaded responsible in April to utilizing the messaging apps Kik and Snapchat to attach with the women, strain them to ship him sexually express photographs of themselves after which use that materials to demand extra content material with the specter of publicly posting the photographs in his possession, the Justice Division mentioned.
Eight victims, ranging in age from 12 to 16, had been recognized throughout the US, together with in Arkansas, California, Kentucky, Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and West Virginia, in response to a statement from the U.S. Legal professional’s Workplace for the Western District of Washington.
“This predatory defendant infiltrated our homes, using electronic access and social media to deceive, pressure and sexually exploit young girls across the country,” Tessa M. Gorman, the appearing U.S. lawyer, mentioned within the assertion. “We warn our children about the ‘dangerous stranger’ they might encounter on the street — we must be equally vigilant about the ones who are lurking online.”
Colin Fieman, a lawyer for Mr. Punt, known as the case “just a tragic situation all around.”
“Joshua was the victim of extreme childhood abuse,” Mr. Fieman, a federal public defender, mentioned in an interview on Monday night time. “He’s schizophrenic. He’s never had any mental health support. So there were a lot of mitigating and complicating circumstances with the case that the judge took into careful account today.”
Investigators recognized Mr. Punt because the administrator of a kid pornography distribution group on Kik, the place he demanded that new members share content material and barred those that failed to take action, the assertion mentioned, including that an undercover worker of the Federal Bureau of Investigation discovered a cache of kid pornography after following hyperlinks posted by Mr. Punt.
In accordance with the federal authorities, Mr. Punt pleaded responsible in April to manufacturing of kid pornography, enticement of a minor, distribution of kid pornography and commercial of kid pornography. He can be required to register as a intercourse offender after finishing his jail sentence.
Mr. Punt was arrested by native authorities in Might 2019 and charged federally in November of that yr, the authorities mentioned.
In accordance with a federal criticism from November 2019, a 15-year-old woman whom investigators recognized as the primary sufferer mentioned she had linked on Kik with somebody claiming to be 17 years outdated. The particular person, who investigators mentioned was Mr. Punt, demanded three days later that the woman ship him express materials. When she did so, he requested for extra and threatened to distribute the photographs and movies of her in his possession all through her hometown if she didn’t comply.
Mr. Punt, in response to the criticism, despatched display screen photographs to the woman of an obvious Kik group dialog, wherein he shared her photographs, together with group members’ reactions. In response, the criticism mentioned, the woman created and despatched extra sexually express content material of herself “in order to prevent him from making her depictions public.”
When Mr. Punt wouldn’t cease harassing the woman, continued to threaten her and demanded extra materials, she and her mother and father in December 2018 contacted the New York State Police and the F.B.I., which started investigating.
“Mr. Punt is a prime example of what is referred to as a ‘sextortionist,’” Donald Voiret, an F.B.I. agent, mentioned within the assertion. “While he will be serving time in a federal penitentiary for his actions, I would encourage parents everywhere to engage with their children about the risks of online predators.”
At a sentencing listening to on Monday, Choose Benjamin H. Settle of U.S. District Courtroom mentioned the harm inflicted by Mr. Punt would go on for many years, “rippling through lives,” in response to the assertion.
He additionally addressed Mr. Punt immediately: “You could see the pain in those girls, and you continued to do it — to eight precious, innocent young girls — you tortured them.”