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Utahn accused in ‘sextortion’ of over 50 teens, charges say

Utah

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SALT LAKE CITY (Deseret News) — A South Jordan man accused of sextortion was arrested Monday on a $500,000 warrant and then quickly made bail.

Gabe Ryan Gilbert, 19, was charged with contacting juvenile girls on social media and threatening to photo-edit nude images of them if they would not send him real nude photos.

Gilbert is charged in 3rd District Court with five counts of aggravated sexual extortion of a child, a first-degree felony, and four counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, a second-degree felony.

The investigation began in August when agents with the Internet Crimes Against Children task force learned that Gilbert had been using Snapchat to extort teenage girls, according to charging documents.

A 15-year-old girl reported to authorities that Gilbert “had threatened to photoshop images of her face onto nude photos unless she sent real nude pictures of herself,” the charges state. In one Snapchat conversation, Gilbert allegedly threatened to “expose” her if she didn’t send a picture in one minute.

When investigators looked into Gilbert’s Snapchat account, in which he was using an alias, “it was obvious the user had been engaging in very similar behavior with other underage girls. I identified well over 50 potential victims of this type of sexual extortion,” investigators with the Utah Attorney General’s Office wrote in the charges.

Agents went to Gilbert’s home in March only to find out that he was serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Mexico, and had left about two months after the alleged extortion attempt involving the 15-year-old, according to charging documents.

In April, “I was contacted by an attorney for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He stated the same day I spoke with (Gilbert’s mom) about this case … she contacted the mission president and explained we had asked to speak with Gabe. The mission president called Gabe in and interviewed him. What Gabe said was not disclosed, but he was immediately sent home,” the charges state.

When investigators returned to the Gilbert home, his parents refused to tell them where Gilbert was or talk to them without a lawyer, according to the court documents.

“I told her Gabe was an adult and was free to decline to speak with me, but she cannot hide him,” an agent wrote.

Gilbert also allegedly pressured a girlfriend into sending nude photos of herself in 2017 when he was 17 and she was 15. She had already sent some photos and was reluctant to send more, but Gilbert “threatened to expose her and distribute the images she had already sent him unless she sent him more photos,” the charges state.

In May 2018, Gilbert pressured a girl, believed to be between 14 and 16 years old, into sending explicit videos of herself, the charges state. He “aggressively threatened a Snapchat user that he would ruin her life by exposing her nude photos. He continued to repeat these threats while telling the user to record nude videos of herself and send them to him,” according to the charges.

Investigators say he also threatened to “expose” a 16-year-old girl in June 2018 by sending pictures to her grandmother, and also threatened a 14-year-old girl the same month.

“His messages included threats to send rapists and human traffickers to her house,” agents wrote in the charges. When the girl replied that she was not scared of Gilbert, he allegedly “sent four screenshots of (her) exact location, down to an image of her house.”

Charging documents list three other underage girls that Gilbert threatened to photo-edit nude images on their faces if they did not send real nude selfies, according to charging documents.

Investigators requested that should Gilbert make bail that he not be allowed to access any electronic devices.

This article was originally published in the Deseret News. It is used here with permission. Subscribe to the paper here.

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