Vancouver man accused of targeting teens online

Crime

Joshua Punt now faces 9 counts of production of child porn and enticement of a minor

VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) — A Vancouver man now faces charges of multiple federal crimes for child porn and exploiting teens online.

The US Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Washington said the man posed as a teen and pressured several kids across the country into sending him explicit photos. He used apps like Kik and Snapchat to connect with the teens, who in turn thought they were talking to someone their age.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation said that 39-year-old Joshua Henry Punt met one of the victims from Albany, New York on the app Kik. He was pretending to be a teenage boy. Court documents said Punt had a fake picture of a young man on his profile, and told a 15-year-old girl that he was turning 17. He also gave her a fake name and phone number. Just days later, he asked for sexual pictures.

The 15-year-old girl eventually sent nude images of herself, according to the FBI. After that, the demands began. Punt ordered the teen to perform sex acts for him with males and females. When she declined, he threatened the victim by telling her he would sell or post her images online if she did not comply with his demands.

One of the threats read, “Every school and…roller rink is getting your pics and vids and the link I made with alllll [sic] of your info, pics, number, etc.”

Another post read:

“It’s not a good idea to block me, but if you wanna block me, go ahead. Guarantee you’ll see all your pictures and videos all over North-whatever place you’re from in Albany and all those little such schools.”

Court documents show that law enforcement took over the teen’s Kik account and traced the messages and demands back to Punt in Washington.

“We need to make sure, as a society, when we are giving children—in particular teenagers—a cell phone, a tablet, a computer, we know that they are doing on it and that goes for the school district too,” said Michelle Bart, President and co-founder of the National Women’s Coalition Against Violence and Exploitation.

Punt was arrested and now faces 9 counts of production of child porn and enticement of a minor. The FBI said there were at least 5 victims living in New York, Arkansas, California, Texas, and West Virginia.

“The question is, how many other victims were there prior to being caught?” asked Bart.

The US Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Washington said Punt was active online from late 2018 through the spring of 2019. He was initially charged in Clark County Superior Court, and was charged with federal crimes in Tacoma on Thursday.

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