A 27-year-old Whittier man has been arrested for targeting teenage girls for sextortion and sexual assault. According to a KABC news report, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said a 16-year-old girl reported that a man she met on the social messaging app Kik had threatened to hurt her if she didn’t send him nude pictures of herself. This happened, she said, back in October of 2016. Detectives said the man had learned enough about the victim through her social media posts to convince the teen that he knew where she lived and what school she attended.
The man used the screen name of “thegiftedmonster” to threaten the teen until she sent him the nude photos he demanded from her, officials said. Police said the man was able to evade investigators by masking his Internet address, but detectives were eventually able to track him down. Officers served a search warrant at Magana’s apartment in unincorporated Whittier. During their search, police said they found a cell phone containing images of another underage girl and showed a conversation in which he threatened her in a manner similar to the victim who complained.
Detectives said the man used the same username and threatened to harm the 17-year-old if she didn’t send him the nude pictures in early 2017. After the teen sent him the photos, the man threatened to distribute the pictures on the Internet and to her friends and family unless she had sex with him.
Deputies said the teen met the man at his home where he sexually assaulted her. He continued to threaten and extort the teen for sex throughout the month of January, officials said. The girl had not told anyone about the sextortion or the assaults until detectives contacted her. The man was arrested and faces several counts of aggravated sexual assault, extortion and possession of child pornography. He was held on $910,000 bail. Police are looking for more victims in this case.
Sextortion is a serious crime that occurs when someone threatens to distribute your private and sensitive material if you don’t provide them with images of a sexual nature, perform sexual favors or give them money. The perpetrator may also threaten to harm the victim or her friends or family members by using information they have obtained from electronic devices unless they comply with their demands.
Extortion is defined as the use of non-physical force to compel another party to do something for you. Similarly, sextortion occurs when you use guilt, power or some type of damaging information about another person to compel that person to do something against her will. The most common ways in which sextortion occurs is through social media networks such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter or through apps such as Kik. WhatsApp, WeChat or BBM.
Sextortion is not a crime that has been defined under California law. However, you could be facing charges for several other crimes if you are accused of sextortion. Some of the crimes you could be charged with, depending on the nature and circumstances of the incident include extortion, blackmail, bribery, and possession of child pornography, cyberstalking and sexual assault. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you could be charged with one or more of these crimes. And because sextortion involves Internet crimes, you could be charged with a federal crime.
In addition, if you are accused of committing sextortion against a minor, you could be charged with sexual exploitation of a minor under 18 U.S. Code Section 2251. This law defines sexual exploitation of a minor as “any person who employs, uses, persuades, induces, entices, or coerces any minor to engage in, or who has a minor assist any other person to engage in, or who transports any minor in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce, or in any Territory or Possession of the United States, with the intent that such minor engage in, any sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing any visual depiction of such conduct or for the purpose of transmitting a live visual depiction of such conduct.” A person convicted of this crime could face up to 30 years in federal prison.
A majority of sextortion cases also involve the use of a computer. If you hack into someone else’s computer to commit sextortion, you could be charged with another federal crime of unauthorized access to a computer. Under 18 U.S.C. Section 1030, this is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000.
The consequences of a conviction on charges relating to sextortion can be devastating. A conviction could destroy your personal life, cost you your job and ruin your future. If you are accused of a sex crime, you may also be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life. Sextortion charges could also stem from false accusations and misunderstandings. As we saw in this case, individuals who extort use screen names. Detectives attempt to track them down and such a complicated process might result in errors and mistaken identity.
If you or a loved one is facing charges relating to sextortion, you need the services of an experienced California sex crime defense lawyer who will fight for your rights every step of the way. If you’ve been arrested, do not talk to the police until you have a knowledgeable attorney on your side. Do not talk to the authorities even if they appear friendly and assure you that they are just trying to get some information. Anything you tell them can and will be used against you.
The experienced criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Randy Collins have a long and successful track record of obtaining the best possible outcomes for our clients. We will strive to get you an acquittal or get your charges reduced. The stakes are extremely high in sextortion cases where individuals stand to face lengthy prison sentences. Don’t take a chance with your future. Call us at (888) 250-2865 to discuss your case at absolutely no cost.