Defendant posed as teen and pressured victims into sending sexually explicit photos then blackmailed victims into sending additional videos
Tacoma – A 39-year-old Vancouver, Washington, man was charged today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma with nine federal sex crimes for his scheme to entice and pressure young teens into sending him sexually explicit photos. JOSHUA HENRY PUNT is charged with four counts of production of child pornography and five counts of enticement of a minor for his six-month criminal scheme. PUNT used the messaging app ‘Kik’ and Snapchat to connect with young teens across the U.S. Victims in this case have been identified in New York, Arkansas, California, Texas, and West Virginia.
“This defendant is the ‘dangerous stranger’ we all hope our kids never meet,” said U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran. “He is alleged to have trolled the internet, posing as a teen, and probing for vulnerabilities in those looking for friendship. What followed were threats, blackmail, and the horror of possibly having private moments put on display.”
According to the criminal complaint filed in the case, law enforcement has identified five victims who reported similar details of how PUNT contacted them on the ‘Kik’ messaging app or by Snapchat pretending to be a teen-age boy. The incidents charged in the case began in approximately October 2018 and continued until May 2019. After convincing the teens to send sexually explicit photos, PUNT demanded additional photos and videos of sex acts. PUNT threatened to send the photos he already had to the victims’ peers at their schools or in their community if they did not provide more images.
After a victim in New York went to police, authorities traced the contact to PUNT and seized his electronic devices from his home in Vancouver. The phone contained hundreds of sexually explicit images and videos, and authorities are working to identify additional victims.
PUNT was arrested on May 21, 2019, and was originally charged in Clark County Superior Court. Clark County Prosecutors are working closely with federal prosecutors and determined the case was best pursued in federal court.
Production of Child Pornography is punishable by a mandatory minimum 15 years and up to 30 years in prison. Enticement of a minor is punishable by up to life in prison. If convicted, the ultimate sentence will be determined by the Court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
The charges contained in the complaint are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The case is being investigated by the Vancouver Police Department’s Digital Evidence Cybercrime Unit, in conjunction with Homeland Security Investigations. Law enforcement agencies in other jurisdictions are also assisting this investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Angelica Williams.