Health + Safety
Online ‘Sextortion’ Epidemic Escalates Among Young Girls
“You have left a permanent scar on my family,” said the father of a 15-year-old victim of Sextortion.
It always starts off with a few innocent messages sent back and forth until the predator on the other end asks for a risqué photo… and gets it.
Amy Allen, a forensics interview specialist at Homeland Security Investigations who talks with victims, says preteens and teenagers are at a point in their lives where experimenting sexually and taking risks is a part of their curiosity. Their moral compasses are still developing, so decisions between right and wrong are blurry.
Unemployed high school dropout Tremain Hutchinson was a 28-year-old man, who spent a lot of time talking to of young girls from his mother’s apartment in suburban Atlanta. He was interested in girls from ages 11 to 17 and posed as a cute 16-year-old Georgia boy on a teen chat site called Tagged.com.
Using a photo of his younger cousin in his profile, Hutchinson would be “Mario” one day and “Quan” another day, but his pick-up line was always the same: “What’s up? You be my freak once a month. I will spoil you, buy you a cell phone, keep your bill paid. Hair, nails done. Buy you shoes, clothes, whatever you want.”
As expected, dozens of girls responded. One of them was a 15-year-old girl from Atlanta, who has regretted her decision ever since, her father says.
Hutchinson convinced the girl to send a partially nude photo of herself. She did, but that wasn’t enough. He then pressed her to send more and more explicit images until he asked her to do something so unthinkable that led federal investigators to his door: Perform oral sex on her 13-year-old brother and send a photo.
Hutchinson would threaten to kill the girl and her parents, saying vaguely at one point that she didn’t “want to end up like the other girl” if his demands were not met.
Panicked by the request, the girl told her brother and the two staged a photo pretending to do what Hutchinson ordered. They sent the photo using their aunt’s cell phone, hoping it was the end of nightmare.
The girl’s pretense did not work because Hutchinson became angry that the photo was not graphic enough, and sent it back. The photo went directly back to the aunt, who ran directly to the girl’s mother. Thinking that her 15-year-old daughter was molesting her 13-year-old son, the mother called the police and it didn’t take long before the truth came out.
“The guy was a terrorist,” said HIS special agent Tony Scott, who investigated the case in spring 2012. “He terrorized these children. That’s the only term for this.”
Hutchinson was charged with extorting 16 child victims, including four rape victims and three sets of siblings ordered to engage in sexual activities. His youngest rape victim was 11. Hutchinson pleaded guilty to several charges in December and was sentenced to life in prison.
However, that doesn’t ameliorate the lives of victims caught in this crime exclusive to the digital age. It’s called “Sextortion,” and the number of complaints of online enticement with children continues to climb.
The crime took an emotional toll on the young girl, who began cutting herself and talking about suicide. She began attending therapy sessions, but her grades plummeted and the close relationship she once had with her family was fractured.
The girl left home and now lives with relatives in another state.
This is only one cautionary tale among thousands of nationwide reports that have escalated from 5,300 in 2010 to 7,000 in 2013. Parents are urged to talk with their teens about how they lead their virtual lives because one rape case is one too many.
Read the FULL STORY here.