” Investigators believe that this may possibly be one of the worst cases of “sex-extortion” to be investigated in this area.”
March 31, 2017-LaPorte County Officials say they are mobilizing all available resources to investigate what they describe as “possibly be one of the worst cases of “sex-extortion” to be investigated in this area.” According to a statement from the LaPorte County Sheriff’s Office, LaPorte High School administrators became aware of a video that “depict[ed] the child sexual abuse of a LaPorte High School student” circulating on social media on Thursday March 30. Authorities say the video was “linked to numerous local accounts and was being viewed and share by a number of people across a number of internet sources, including Facebook Live.”
As disturbing as the report may be, the comments from many on social media are even more disturbing. In response to the sharing of the post, numerous adults commented and some seem to indicate that they had seen the video. “It showed up on my news feed and I wish I wouldn’t have seen it I literally puked” one commenter stated. Others stressed that the video involved abuse of a child “If we can just explain a tiny bit about what extortion is in a tactful way, we can stop most of the finger pointing at this child victim.” Officials urged residents to avoid further stigmatizing the victim who they have evidence was coerced into producing the video.
Based on the nature of the video, officials placed a “robo call” to high school parents “informing them of the investigation and warning anyone who possesses the video or further distributes the video may be guilty of possession and/or dissemination of child pornography, a serious crime and punishable as a felony offense.”
La Porte County Prosecuting Attorney John Espar responded immediately, mobilizing all members of the newly formed Internet Crimes Against Children (“ICAC”) Unit and alerting the Indiana ICAC Task Force in Indianapolis and counterparts at the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Prosecuting Attorney Espar stated that initial efforts were directed at stemming further distribution of the images which will be followed by a high-tech investigation to trace the origins of the video and the individual responsible for its production. Investigators believe that this may possibly be one of the worst cases of “sex-extortion” to be investigated in this area.
La Porte County Sheriff John Boyd and Prosecutor Espar expressed concern for the child and the child’s family who appear to have been victimized by a particularly heinous crime. Both of the counties two leading law enforcement officials urge everyone to refrain from jumping to conclusions in the matter and avoid the kind of speculation that can only further victimize the family and impede the investigation.
Parents are urged to monitor the social media accounts of children and report any illegal activities immediately.