Columbia, South Carolina --- United States Attorney Peter M. McCoy, Jr., announced today that Nathan Branham, 39, of Cheraw, South Carolina, was arrested on a federal criminal complaint and charged with online coercion and enticement of a minor and transferring obscene material to a minor.
Branham had a detention hearing before United States Magistrate Judge Kaymani D. West on Tuesday and had his initial appearance before United States Magistrate Judge Thomas E. Rogers on May 20. At this time, he remains in custody.
The complaint states that Branham contacted a 13-year-old minor in Kentucky through the online social media application Uplive, a live-streaming platform that allows viewers to broadcast and view real-time videos via their smartphones. Using the screen name Mystic, Branham learned the minor’s age, told the minor he was sixteen years old, and convinced the minor to contact him using the Google Duo video chat application.
According to the complaint, the minor immediately noticed Branham was an adult male. Although Branham stated that he had a genetic condition that made him look older, the minor ended the call. At that point Branham claimed he could find the minor’s address and threatened the minor into engaging in another call with him. On that call, Branham told the minor to expose herself or he was going to “find out your address and have a little talk to you.” After the minor complied, Branham also exposed himself. The minor reported the matter to her parents. The parents contacted Branham, who also used the Facebook username Shuja Jahan, at which point Branham claimed to be a police officer.
According to testimony during court proceedings, Branham – who has convictions for indecent exposure, assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature, and being a felon in possession of a firearm – engaged in similar interactions with minors on more than thirty occasions.
The case was initiated by the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office through the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force program, a national network of 61 coordinated task forces representing over 4,500 federal, state, and local law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies. This case is being investigated by the United States Secret Service with the assistance of the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office ICAC task force. The complaint was brought in South Carolina federal court within a week of the first report to the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Derek A. Shoemake of the Florence office.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorney’s Offices, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as identify and rescue victims. For more information, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
U.S. Attorney McCoy stated that all charges in this case are merely allegations and that the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice. Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.
Derek A. Shoemake (843) 813-0982