Project Safe Childhood:
CAMP COUNSELOR WHO ENTICED MINORS TO ENGAGE IN
SEXUAL ACTIVITY ON THE INTERNET SENTENCED TO 14 YEARS
David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that JASON BETENSKY, 27, last residing in Philadelphia, Penn., was sentenced today by United States District Judge Christopher F. Droney in Hartford to 168 months of imprisonment, followed by 10 years of supervised release, for coercing, and then threatening, minors to send him sexually explicit images of themselves over the Internet.
“This defendant tricked nine boys into sending him sexually explicit images of themselves over the Internet, threatened them into continuing this behavior, and then circulated some of these images to the victims’ family and friends,” stated U.S. Attorney Fein. “It’s a heinous crime that has adversely affected the mental health of his victims, and this lengthy term of imprisonment is appropriate to deter this defendant and others from exploiting children. The cases handled by this Office confirm that one of the attractions of the Internet for child predators is the anonymity it provides to the user, which is also why it can be so dangerous. Children don’t necessarily know whom they are interacting with when on the Internet and can be placed in difficult or dangerous positions by those who seek to exploit them. I want to commend the FBI, the other members of the Connecticut Computer Crimes Task Force, and the Jupiter Police Department for investigating this serious matter and assisting in bringing this defendant to justice.”
According to court documents and statements made in court, from approximately 2003 to 2007, BETENSKY was employed as a counselor at a summer camp in North Carolina. As a camp counselor, BETENSKY learned information about the campers, about their relationships with one another, and about what happened to them during the summer. When camp was not in session, BETENSKY learned additional information about the campers from social networking sites on the Internet and used the Internet to contact a number of the campers. When contacting the campers, BETENSKY posed as a young female, sometimes pretending to have met them at camp. BETENSKY used the information that he obtained to appear legitimate, including information about “mutual” friends and about events that took place at the camp.
After starting an online relationship with a camper, BETENSKY would persuade the camper to engage in sexually explicit conversations. BETENSKY also persuaded his victims to send him sexually explicit pictures and videos of themselves. BETENSKY reciprocated by sending pornographic pictures of unknown females that he obtained on the Internet. BETENSKY also recorded video feeds that were sent by the victims.
BETENSKY then used the pictures and recorded videos of a victim to pressure the victim if the victim attempted to end the online relationship with him. Specifically, BETENSKY threatened to send, and at times did send, copies of the pictures and videos to friends and family members of the victims.
Through this scheme, BETENSKY was able to coerce at least nine campers, all of whom he knew to be under the age of 18, to send him sexually explicit images and videos of themselves.
On January 24, 2011, BETENSKY pleaded guilty to one count of using the Internet to entice a minor to engage in illicit sexual activity.
BETENSKY was arrested on September 20, 2010. Following his arrest, BETENSKY was released into the custody of his parents. BETENSKY has been detained since July 2011 when he was arrested for allegedly stealing millions of hotel reward points, with a cash value of more than $66,000, while working at a hotel in Philadelphia.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Connecticut Computer Crimes Task Force, which includes federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The Jupiter (Fl.) Police Department has assisted the investigation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Edward Chang.
The Connecticut Computer Crimes Task Force investigates crimes occurring over the Internet, including computer intrusion, Internet fraud, copyright violations, Internet threats and harassment and on-line crimes against children. The Task Force is housed in the main FBI office in New Haven, Connecticut. For more information about the Task Force, please contact the FBI at 203-777-6311.
U.S. Attorney Fein noted that this prosecution is part of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Project Safe Childhood Initiative, which is aimed at protecting children from sexual abuse and exploitation. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
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