Vancouver, Washington man sentenced to 20 years in prison for online sexual exploitation of teenagers | USAO-WDWA

Tacoma – A man from Ridgefield, Washington, was sentenced to 20 years in prison and life for 20 years in prison by the U.S. District Court in Tacoma today for his scheme to induce and pressure young teenagers to send him sexually explicit photos and videos Acting US attorney Tessa M. Gorman convicted of supervised release. Joshua Henry Punt, 39, pleaded guilty in April 2021 of using the messaging apps “Kik” and “Snapchat” to connect with teenagers while posing as a teenager. Punt then lured and urged young teenagers to send him sexually explicit photos and videos. Victims have been identified in the United States, including in New York, Arkansas, California, Texas, Nevada, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.

In today’s verdict, US District Judge Benjamin H. Settle said, “There are no words to express how serious this crime is. The weight of the damage will last for decades – run through life … “Judge Settle told Punt,” You could see the pain in these girls, and you kept doing it – up to eight precious, innocent young girls – you tortured them . “

“This predatory defendant has broken into our homes and is using electronic access and social media to deceive, pressurize and sexually exploit young girls across the country,” said acting US Attorney Gorman. “We warn our children about the ‘dangerous stranger’ they might encounter on the street – we need to be just as vigilant about those lurking online.”

According to the files in the case, Punt presented himself as an attractive teenager on his social media accounts by using profile pictures of youthful YouTube personalities. After harmless preliminary talks with his intended victims, Punt requested sexually provocative and / or sexually explicit photos and videos. Unbeknownst to his victims, Punt recorded their videos and pictures on a second phone. For example, if a victim believed they were sending a “snapshot” that would automatically delete or notify the sender when an attempt was made to copy them, Punt secretly recorded the images and videos for future use. When the victims inevitably became uncomfortable with his behavior and tried to leave the “relationship”, Punt threatened to send the videos / pictures to members of their local communities – including schools, coaches and others – if they failed to comply with his demands, which involved the production of additional sexually explicit videos and images. The victims are between 12 and 16 years old.

When the verdict was announced, a mother said of her daughter, “She met a monster disguised as a boy, and her life will change forever…. She now knows what evil looks like. “

“The collaborative work of law enforcement agencies ensures that child robbers are not allowed to use online communication tools as weapons to fulfill their perverse desires,” said Robert Hammer, the special agent in charge, who oversees HSI operations in the Pacific Northwest. “As HSI seeks to protect communities from child exploitation crimes, parents and their children should be extra careful with who they interact with online.”

“Mr. Punt is a prime example of what is called a ‘sex tortionist’,” said FBI Seattle Special Agent Donald Voiret. engaging with their children about the risks posed by online predators. “

Punt was arrested on May 21, 2019. He was originally charged in the Clark County Superior Court. He was charged at the federal level on November 7, 2019.

In a separate investigation, the FBI identified Punt as the administrator of a child pornography distribution group on Kik. As an administrator, Punt actively patrolled the group – encouraging new members to share content and banning those who did not share child pornography. A covert online FBI agent followed up links posted by Punt that led to a cache of child pornography.

On April 27, 2021, Punt pleaded guilty to producing child pornography, luring minors, distributing child pornography and promoting child pornography. Punt has to register as a sex offender after being detained.

The case was investigated by the Vancouver Police Department’s Digital Evidence Cybercrime Unit in conjunction with Homeland Security Investigations. The FBI investigated Punt’s activities in managing a website for trading in images of child abuse and abuse. Law enforcement agencies in other jurisdictions also supported this investigation.

US assistant attorneys Angelica Williams and Cecelia Gregson are pursuing the case.

This case was filed under Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched by the Justice Department to combat the growing epidemic of sexual exploitation and abuse of children. Under the direction of U.S. Attorneys and the Department of Child Exploitation and Profanity (CEO) of the Criminal Investigation Department, Project Safe Childhood provides state, state, and local resources to better track, arrest, and locate those who exploit children online criminally prosecute identify and rescue victims. More information about Project Safe Childhood can be found at www.justice.gov/psc.

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