A male in Washington Condition who posed as a teen on-line and blackmailed girls as young as 12 across the place to ship him sexually explicit photographs and videos was sentenced on Monday to 20 years in prison, the federal authorities mentioned.

The gentleman, Joshua Henry Punt, 39, of Ridgefield, Wash., pleaded guilty in April to applying the messaging applications Kik and Snapchat to hook up with the women, strain them to send out him sexually specific photographs of by themselves and then use that substance to demand from customers more content material with the danger of publicly publishing the illustrations or photos in his possession, the Justice Section said.

Eight victims, ranging in age from 12 to 16, have been recognized across the United States, including in Arkansas, California, Kentucky, Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and West Virginia, in accordance to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Place of work for the Western District of Washington.

“This predatory defendant infiltrated our properties, utilizing digital access and social media to deceive, tension and sexually exploit younger women throughout the region,” Tessa M. Gorman, the acting U.S. lawyer, stated in the statement. “We alert our little ones about the ‘dangerous stranger’ they may possibly experience on the street — we have to be equally vigilant about the kinds who are lurking online.”

Colin Fieman, a attorney for Mr. Punt, called the situation “just a tragic scenario all around.”

“Joshua was the sufferer of severe childhood abuse,” Mr. Fieman, a federal general public defender, mentioned in an interview on Monday night time. “He’s schizophrenic. He’s never had any mental well being guidance. So there were being a ton of mitigating and complicating situation with the situation that the choose took into mindful account these days.”

Investigators recognized Mr. Punt as the administrator of a child pornography distribution team on Kik, wherever he demanded that new associates share content material and barred people who unsuccessful to do so, the statement mentioned, adding that an undercover employee of the Federal Bureau of Investigation identified a cache of child pornography just after next inbound links posted by Mr. Punt.

In accordance to the federal authorities, Mr. Punt pleaded guilty in April to generation of boy or girl pornography, enticement of a minor, distribution of youngster pornography and ad of child pornography. He will be essential to register as a sexual intercourse offender immediately after completing his prison sentence.

Mr. Punt was arrested by community authorities in May well 2019 and billed federally in November of that yr, the authorities stated.

According to a federal grievance from November 2019, a 15-yr-previous girl whom investigators determined as the initial target explained she experienced connected on Kik with anyone claiming to be 17 yrs outdated. The human being, who investigators mentioned was Mr. Punt, demanded a few days afterwards that the female ship him explicit product. When she did so, he asked for more and threatened to distribute the images and movies of her in his possession all over her hometown if she did not comply.

Mr. Punt, according to the complaint, sent display shots to the woman of an clear Kik team discussion, in which he shared her photographs, alongside with group members’ reactions. In reaction, the grievance mentioned, the woman produced and despatched extra sexually explicit material of herself “in buy to stop him from creating her depictions public.”

When Mr. Punt would not end harassing the lady, continued to threaten her and demanded much more substance, she and her mothers and fathers in December 2018 contacted the New York Point out Police and the F.B.I., which started investigating.

“Mr. Punt is a primary case in point of what is referred to as a ‘sextortionist,’” Donald Voiret, an F.B.I. agent, claimed in the assertion. “While he will be serving time in a federal penitentiary for his steps, I would encourage parents almost everywhere to have interaction with their children about the risks of on line predators.”

At a sentencing hearing on Monday, Decide Benjamin H. Settle of U.S. District Court explained the hurt inflicted by Mr. Punt would go on for many years, “rippling as a result of life,” according to the assertion.

He also addressed Mr. Punt instantly: “You could see the ache in people ladies, and you ongoing to do it — to 8 precious, harmless young women — you tortured them.”