BUFFALO (WKBW release) -- U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced Wednesday that a federal grand jury has indicted James S. Allen, 36, of New Baltimore, Mich., on 18 counts of cyberstalking and five counts of production of child pornography.
According to a news release from Hochul's office:
The production of child pornography charges carry a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison, a maximum penalty of 30 years, and a $250,000 fine for each count. The cyberstalking charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron J. Mango, who is handling the case, stated that according to the indictment, between April and August of 2012, the defendant allegedly utilized the internet and text messages to stalk, communicate with, and threaten 18 female victims in the Western District of New York, many of them minors, in an effort to obtain pornographic pictures of the minors. The complaint filed earlier in the case alleges that Allen contacted the victims and told them that he found naked pictures of them on the internet. The defendant then allegedly directed the victims to a specific website to view the pictures. In reality, the website was a front – or “phishing site” - by which the defendant sought to surreptitiously obtain the victim’s private e-mail address and password.
Once the targeted victim input the requested information, the victim’s personal e-mail addresses and passwords allegedly went straight to the defendant via the internet. The defendant thereafter allegedly seized control of the victim’s e-mail accounts, contacted the victims, and threatened that if they did not engage in a Skype video chat with him, he would distribute naked photos of the victims over the internet. Once a victim and the defendant logged onto Skype (the defendant allegedly utilized the screen name “shhh.shhh”), Allen allegedly demanded that the victims take their clothes off and engage in sexual conduct, with the further threat that naked pictures of them would be sent out to all of Western New York if the girl did not comply. As a result of the defendant's alleged repeated and sustained harassment of the victims, many victims suffered substantial emotional distress.
U.S. Attorney Hochul stated that “It is appropriate that the grand jury returned this case in January, which is National Stalking Awareness Month. According to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in late 2011, 6.6 million people were stalked in a 12-month period and 1 in 6 women and 1 in 19 men were stalked at some point in their lifetime. These statistics certainly demonstrate that anyone can be a victim of stalking, but that women and girls are three times more likely to be stalked than men. As shown by the present case, statistics also indicate that young adults have the highest rate of stalking victimization.”
U.S. Attorney Hochul continued “another message that the public needs to recognize is that most stalking cases involve some form of technology. According to available reports, more than three-quarters of stalking victims received unwanted phone calls, voice and text messages, and one-third of victims were watched, followed, or tracked with a listening or other device. These findings underscore the critical need for the public to understand how stalkers and other criminals use technology.”
U.S. Attorney Hochul concluded “The public, in particular parents, need to continue to be vigilant is the use of both computers and cellular telephones. While modern communication and technology provide benefits to many, in the hands of criminals, the same instruments sometimes lead to potentially dangerous, even deadly situations. Keep these simple tips in mind: beware of strangers or individuals you don’t know who approach you online; do not post personal or identifying information online; and carefully monitor your accounts to prevent hacking or other related issues.”