Chehalis teen accused of blackmailing classmates, others with explicit photos
CHEHALIS, Wash. -- A 16-year-old Chehalis boy was arrested Tuesday for allegedly using a fake online profile to lure others into providing sexually explicit photos, according to Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer. The boy then reportedly extorted the victims for additional photos.
The boy was arrested on charges of first-degree possession of depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct, first-degree dealing in depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct and second-degree extortion.
According to Meyer, the boy admitted to officials he has allegedly extorted more than 100 victims.
Law enforcement has identified at least 10 victims who are classmates of the suspect at William F. West High School in Chehalis, Meyer said.
The Chehalis School District says it first got a complaint about the activity last year but was asked by the FBI not to take any action.
"Today, (Oct. 10), the district was informed that a student was arrested following an FBI investigation resulting from online activity. A year ago, a Chehalis school administrator was contacted by a parent whose child was victimized online. The parent had notified law enforcement. A few weeks later, the FBI and local law enforcement met with school officials informing the district that an investigation was underway here because some WF West students had been victims. Last spring, the FBI reported to the district that a WF West student was the suspected perpetrator. The FBI directed the district to take no action, so as not to interfere with the investigation. We followed the FBI request."
According to Meyer, the boy reportedly created a fake online profile pretending to be a female and asked males to send explicit photos. He then reportedly extorted the victims for additional photos and if they didn't comply, he threatened, and in some cases, followed through, on exposing the photos to other classmates.
The FBI, Lewis County Sheriff's Office and Chehalis Police Department are involved in the investigation. Meyer said he has received hundreds of pages of documents from the FBI that he will be going through.
Meyer said he believes the boy will face an additional 30 to 40 charges in this case. Those charges could be filed as soon as next week.
Meyer filed a motion in Lewis County Juvenile Court on Tuesday asking the court to decline jurisdiction to allow prosecutors to charge the boy as an adult.
"We will be working diligently to make sure all the victims are notified and that our office provides whatever resources they need as they struggle to come to grips with this entire situation," Meyer said. "Both for the kids and the parents, because obviously this is going to be traumatic for everyone involved," Meyer told KOMO News Radio.
The 16-year-old is being held in the Lewis County juvenile detention center. His next court appearance is Oct. 24.