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Press Release

Trempealeau County Man Sentenced To 18 Years For Receiving Child Pornography

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Wisconsin
U.S. Attorney Urges Parents to Discuss Dangers of Sextortion With Children and Teens

MADISON, WIS. – Timothy M. O’Shea, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced that Seth W. Fagan, 33, La Crosse, Wisconsin, was sentenced today by Chief U.S. District Judge James D. Peterson to 18 years in prison for receiving child pornography. This term of imprisonment will be followed by a lifetime period of supervised release. Fagan pleaded guilty to this charge on January 16, 2024.

The investigation into Fagan began in March 2023, when a 16-year-old victim in Onalaska, Wisconsin, reported to her school resource officer that she was being threatened and harassed by a Snapchat user. The victim told the officer that she accepted a friend request from a Snapchat user who said he was a teenage male in the area. After exchanging nude photos, the Snapchat user began to threaten the victim, stating that he would send her nude photo to her family and friends if she did not send him more nude images.

An investigation into the Snapchat user’s name and records showed that this account, and many other Snapchat accounts, were being controlled by Fagan. Fagan used his Snapchat personas to message numerous minors pretending to be a teenage male. Fagan solicited and received hundreds of images of minors in the community and across the country. In some incidents, he threatened to publicly share the images if the minors did not send him additional images.

During the search of Fagan’s devices, law enforcement found many videos of a twelve-year-old victim Fagen was communicating with via Snapchat. Fagan received sexual images of this victim and then threatened to share them if she did not comply with his demands for more images. Fagan recorded a series of videos of this victim where he directed her to perform sexual acts on herself and told her to cry while he watched.

At sentencing, Judge Peterson found Fagan’s large number of young victims disturbing and aggravating, and his actions calculating. Judge Peterson observed that Fagan had a commitment to abusive conduct, noting that his behavior towards the twelve-year-old victim was particularly cruel. Judge Peterson also found that Fagan posed a danger to the community and that a long sentence was warranted to protect the public and to reflect the seriousness of Fagan’s conduct.

U.S. Attorney Timothy M. O’Shea praised the courage of the victims who came forward in this case. “By doing so, these victims helped stop Fagan’s crimes against them and countless other victims. Sextortion is a terrible crime, and my office will continue to vigorously prosecute those who engage in this disturbing behavior.” 

According to the FBI, there has been a significant spike in children and teens being threatened and coerced into sending explicit images online, a crime known as sextortion. Sextortion can start on any site, app, messaging platform, or game where people meet and communicate. Most often, the crime starts when young people believe they are communicating with someone their own age who is interested in a relationship or with someone who is offering something of value.

Unfortunately, in a sextortion scheme, the abuser uses the original images or video as leverage against the victim. After the criminals have one or more videos or pictures, they threaten to publish that content, or they threaten violence, to get the victim to produce more images. The shame, fear, and confusion children feel when they are caught in this cycle often prevents them from asking for help or reporting the abuse.

U.S. Attorney O’Shea urged parents and guardians to talk to their children about sextortion and discuss what they should do if they are being extorted by someone online. “Keep an open dialog with your children and urge them to tell you or another trusted adult if they are ever asked to exchange inappropriate content, even if the situation is uncomfortable.”

Additional information about this type of crime can be found at:

The charges against Fagan were the result of an investigation conducted by the Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation, the Onalaska and Sparta Police Departments, and the Ritchie County Sheriff’s Department in West Virginia. The prosecution of the case has been handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn Ginsberg.

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 For more information about internet safety education, please visit and click on the tab “resources.”

Updated April 16, 2024

Project Safe Childhood