Man Who Blackmailed Girls to Send Explicit Images Is Sentenced to 20 Years

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Joshua Henry Punt, 39, posed online arsenic a teen and preyed connected girls ranging successful property from 12 to 16 successful states crossed the country, the national authorities said.

Joshua Henry Punt, 39, was sentenced successful  United States District Court for the Western District of Washington successful  Tacoma.
Credit...Ian Dewar

Sept. 27, 2021, 9:53 p.m. ET

A antheral successful Washington State who posed arsenic a teen online and blackmailed girls arsenic young arsenic 12 crossed the state to nonstop him sexually explicit photos and videos was sentenced connected Monday to 20 years successful prison, the national authorities said.

The man, Joshua Henry Punt, 39, of Ridgefield, Wash., pleaded blameworthy successful April to utilizing the messaging apps Kik and Snapchat to link with the girls, unit them to nonstop him sexually explicit images of themselves and past usage that worldly to request much contented with the menace of publically posting the images successful his possession, the Justice Department said.

Eight victims, ranging successful property from 12 to 16, were identified crossed the United States, including successful Arkansas, California, Kentucky, Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and West Virginia, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington.

“This predatory suspect infiltrated our homes, utilizing physics entree and societal media to deceive, unit and sexually exploit young girls crossed the country,” Tessa M. Gorman, the acting U.S. attorney, said successful the statement. “We pass our children astir the ‘dangerous stranger’ they mightiness brushwood connected the thoroughfare — we indispensable beryllium arsenic vigilant astir the ones who are lurking online.”

Colin Fieman, a lawyer for Mr. Punt, called the lawsuit “just a tragic concern each around.”

“Joshua was the unfortunate of utmost puerility abuse,” Mr. Fieman, a national nationalist defender, said successful an interrogation connected Monday night. “He’s schizophrenic. He’s ne'er had immoderate intelligence wellness support. So determination were a batch of mitigating and complicating circumstances with the lawsuit that the justice took into cautious relationship today.”

Investigators identified Mr. Punt arsenic the head of a kid pornography organisation radical connected Kik, wherever helium demanded that caller members stock contented and barred those who failed to bash so, the connection said, adding that an undercover worker of the Federal Bureau of Investigation recovered a cache of kid pornography aft pursuing links posted by Mr. Punt.

According to the national authorities, Mr. Punt pleaded blameworthy successful April to accumulation of kid pornography, enticement of a minor, organisation of kid pornography and advertisement of kid pornography. He volition beryllium required to registry arsenic a enactment offender aft completing his situation sentence.

Mr. Punt was arrested by section authorities successful May 2019 and charged federally successful November of that year, the authorities said.

According to a national ailment from November 2019, a 15-year-old miss whom investigators identified arsenic the archetypal unfortunate said she had connected connected Kik with idiosyncratic claiming to beryllium 17 years old. The person, who investigators said was Mr. Punt, demanded 3 days aboriginal that the miss nonstop him explicit material. When she did so, helium asked for much and threatened to administer the images and videos of her successful his possession passim her hometown if she did not comply.

Mr. Punt, according to the complaint, sent surface shots to the miss of an evident Kik radical conversation, successful which helium shared her images, on with radical members’ reactions. In response, the ailment said, the miss created and sent much sexually explicit contented of herself “in bid to forestall him from making her depictions public.”

When Mr. Punt would not halt harassing the girl, continued to endanger her and demanded much material, she and her parents successful December 2018 contacted the New York State Police and the F.B.I., which began investigating.

“Mr. Punt is simply a premier illustration of what is referred to arsenic a ‘sextortionist,’” Donald Voiret, an F.B.I. agent, said successful the statement. “While helium volition beryllium serving clip successful a national penitentiary for his actions, I would promote parents everyplace to prosecute with their children astir the risks of online predators.”

At a sentencing proceeding connected Monday, Judge Benjamin H. Settle of U.S. District Court said the harm inflicted by Mr. Punt would spell connected for decades, “rippling done lives,” according to the statement.

He besides addressed Mr. Punt directly: “You could spot the symptom successful those girls, and you continued to bash it — to 8 precious, guiltless young girls — you tortured them.”

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