TACOMA – The Washington State Patrol is investigating allegations that a 24-year-old soldier from Joint Base Lewis-McChord now in Afghanistan had persuaded underage girls he met on Facebook to send him nude photos of themselves and that he would then blackmail them to try to get more.
“The investigation is still early, but the WSP has so far identified 10 victims ranging in ages from 13 to 17 years old,” said a State Patrol statement issued Friday. The girls the WSP have confirmed as victims so far are all students in the Pierce County area.
“While most of the allegations involve online activities, there are allegations that the suspect may have had in-person contact with several of the victims,” the WSP said.
Investigators said the online activities are alleged to have begun about 10 months ago before the soldier deployed overseas and then continued while deployed in Afghanistan. They said the Army’s Criminal Investigative Command, or CID, is assisting in the investigation and the soldier’s computer access has been restricted.
State detectives said they initiated the investigation in late April after a parent of a high school student alleged a soldier was demanding nude photographs during online conversations.
One girl reportedly told her parents the soldier had threatened to disclose to them the photos she had already sent unless she kept cooperating.
The investigation, which is being carried out by the Washington State Patrol’s Exploited Children’s Task Force, is focused on the distribution of child pornography and blackmail/extortion.