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College freshman faces sex crime and extortion charges

An allegation of a college student secretly accessing webcam technology of college women’s computers sounds more like the plot of a fraternity house movie, rather than real life. Yet one college student is charged with this very crime.

The 19-year-old college freshman is now facing charges of federal extortion brought by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The student’s parents signed his $50,000 bond agreements, and he is currently on electronically monitored home detention.

According to authorities, the student used the women’s hijacked webcams to photograph them undressing, then blackmailed them for additional nude photos. Notably, one of the female victims is the current Miss Teen USA.

Authorities began their investigation after one of the female victims contacted them. That investigation grew to include analysis of email exchanges and chats in online forums. It also led to a search warrant for the student’s home and the seizure of incriminating evidence.

Although readers might be surprised that a college prank could warrant FBI involvement, a sex crimes attorney might be accustomed to such aggressive prosecution of alleged sexual offenders. Authorities might pose under a virtual pseudonym and pretend to be someone else in online chats, instant messages, text messages, pictures, webcam images, and email exchanges.

Unfortunately, such electronic communications often end up as evidence used against an alleged sex offender in a criminal trial. The amount of electronic evidence collected against a criminal defendant is often voluminous, and may potentially prejudice jurors just by the sheer amount. For that reason, a sex crimes lawyer often has to raise evidentiary objections against prosecutors attempting to use overly prejudicial or cumulative evidence.

Source: cnn.com, “Arrest made in Miss Teen USA Cassidy Wolf 'sextortion' case,” Greg Botelho, Sept. 27, 2013

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