A person in Washington State who posed as a youngster on-line and blackmailed ladies as younger as 12 throughout the nation to ship him sexually specific photographs and movies was sentenced on Monday to 20 years in jail, the federal authorities mentioned.
The man, Joshua Henry Punt, 39, of Ridgefield, Wash., pleaded responsible in April to utilizing the messaging apps Kik and Snapchat to join with the ladies, stress them to ship him sexually specific pictures 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 Department mentioned.
Eight victims, ranging in age from 12 to 16, had been recognized throughout the United States, together with in Arkansas, California, Kentucky, Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and West Virginia, in accordance to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office 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. legal professional, 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 achieve this, 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.
According to 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 will probably be required to register as a intercourse offender after finishing his jail sentence.
Mr. Punt was arrested by native authorities in May 2019 and charged federally in November of that 12 months, the authorities mentioned.
According to a federal grievance from November 2019, a 15-year-old woman whom investigators recognized as the primary sufferer mentioned she had related on Kik with somebody claiming to be 17 years previous. The particular person, who investigators mentioned was Mr. Punt, demanded three days later that the woman ship him specific 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 accordance to the grievance, despatched display screen pictures to the woman of an obvious Kik group dialog, through which he shared her pictures, together with group members’ reactions. In response, the grievance mentioned, the woman created and despatched extra sexually specific 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, Judge Benjamin H. Settle of U.S. District Court mentioned the injury inflicted by Mr. Punt would go on for many years, “rippling through lives,” in accordance 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.”