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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of North Dakota

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Wahpeton Man Pleads Guilty to Producing Child Pornography in North Dakota’s First Sextortion Case

Fargo - U.S. Attorney Timothy Q. Purdon announced that on November 5, 2014, Dustin Coleman, age 22, pleaded guilty to three counts of producing child pornography, two counts of extortion, and three counts of possession of child pornography. On each of the production of child pornography counts, Coleman faces a minimum mandatory sentence of 15 years, up to 30 years in federal prison and a potential life term of supervised release. He further faces a sentence of up to 20 years in prison for extorting sexually explicit images and videos from a child by threatening to injure another person and up to two years’ incarceration for extorting sexually explicit images from a child by threatening to damage her reputation. Finally, on each of the possession of child pornography counts, Coleman faces a maximum sentence of 10 years’ incarceration.

Beginning in 2013 and continuing until on about July 2013, Coleman used Kik Messenger and Touch, which are free messaging application for mobile devices, to transmit threatening communications with the intent to extort sexually explicit images and videos from female minors. Coleman used social networking websites such as Facebook to gather information about minor females located throughout the United States. He then used this information to extort the girls into creating sexually explicit images of themselves. On at least one occasion, he lied about already having possessed sexually explicit images of a minor female to extort sexually explicit images from her. Coleman used several different online screen names, including the screen name “debt collector” to both intimidate the minor females and conceal his identity and location when communicating with the minors.

After Coleman received sexually explicit images from minor females, he continued to demand that the victims send him additional and more graphic sexually explicit still images and videos. Coleman would communicate to the minor females that if they did not comply with his demands for additional material, he would injure their reputation by posting the sexually explicit images and videos to their friends and family. In at least one instance, he also threatened to sexually assault a minor female’s prepubescent sister if she did not comply. Coleman continued this pattern of extortion until law enforcement discovered his criminal activity while executing a search warrant for child pornography.

On August 26, 2013, Coleman’s former roommate in Wahpeton, North Dakota reported to the Wahpeton Police Department that she had viewed child pornography depicting a 14-year-old minor with whom she was familiar on Coleman’s electronic media. She took the media to a Wahpeton Police Department officer who obtained a search warrant for the media. This media was eventually forensically examined by a BCI special agent who discovered hundreds of sexually explicit images of young girls that appeared to be self-produced. Through further investigation, the BCI forensic agent was able to recover chats logs from the media which were associated with these sexually explicit images and videos. It was in these chats, that BCI discovered that defendant was extorting many of the girls into creating sexually explicit images and videos. In one instance, BCI recovered a chat log between the defendant and a 13-year-old minor girl who informed Defendant she was going to take her own life so as to avoid having to create additional material. HSI and BCI quickly located this girl who identified herself in the material found on Coleman’s media. The young girl further informed an HSI special agent that Coleman threatened to sexually assault her younger sister if she did not comply with his demands. A further forensic examination of the media also revealed child pornography depicting prepubescent children.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute
individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc.

This case was investigated by the North Dakota Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force to include the Wahpeton Police Department, North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigations, and Homeland Security Investigations.

The case is being prosecuted by U.S. Attorney Jennifer Klemetsrud Puhl.

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Updated February 4, 2015