GREENVILLE, SOUTH CAROLINA — Peterson Jean-Baptiste, 23, of Palm Bay, Florida, was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison and placed on lifetime supervision for his role in disseminating child pornography.
Evidence presented to the Court showed that, while on probation in Florida for a drug distribution conviction, Jean-Baptiste targeted teenage girls on Snapchat. After establishing a relationship with his victims, Jean-Baptiste requested nude photographs. Once in possession of nude images, Jean-Baptiste threatened to post the images on the internet if the victims did not provide more images. Jean-Baptiste would then direct the victims on how to pose and forced some victims to involve an animal in the pictures.
This matter came to the attention of law enforcement when one victim informed her parents of the sextortion, and the sextortion was reported to the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office. The Sheriff’s Office began an investigation and requested assistance from the Department of Homeland Security once it became apparent that the crime involved multiple states.
Law enforcement was able to locate the defendant in Florida, seize his mobile device, and search the device. A search of the phone showed that the defendant regularly used FaceTime video to chat with young girls, and he had them film their bodies while he watched, usually only showing his forehead or part of his face. On one occasion he mistakenly showed his entire face, and this further confirmed the defendant’s identity.
Two victims—one 14 years old and the other 15 years old—resided in South Carolina. Additional images of young girls were found on the phone, but law enforcement did not have enough information to identify them.
“Sextortion has been on the rise in recent years and presents an extreme danger to our children,” said United States Attorney Adair F. Boroughs. “We are grateful to the young victim and parents that first reported this crime to law enforcement. We will continue to dedicate resources to identifying victims of this predatory conduct and ensuring that offenders face serious consequences for sextortion.”
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the U.S. Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals, who sexually exploit children, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit http://www.justice.gov/psc.
United States District Judge Bruce H. Hendricks presided over the case. This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney Bill Watkins prosecuted the case.
CONTACT PERSON: Brook Andrews, First Assistant United States Attorney, U.S. Attorney’s Office, firstname.lastname@example.org, (803) 929-3000.