INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An Indiana man has agreed to plead
guilty to charges alleging that he tricked more than a dozen teenagers
from several states into stripping or performing sexual acts for him via
webcam and then used recordings of those sessions to coerce them into
making even more explicit videos.
Finkbiner, who lives in the western Indiana community of Brazil, signed an
agreement filed in federal court in Terre Haute on Wednesday in which he
will plead guilty to child exploitation, extortion and possession of child
pornography in exchange for a recommended sentence of 30 to 50 years in
Joe Hogsett previously said that his office intended to seek an effective
life sentence if a jury convicted Finkbiner.
outset, our focus in this case has been on fully investigating this
alleged criminal activity so that we can provide closure - and justice -
for the hundreds of potential victims affected by the defendant." Hogsett
said during a news conference Thursday in Terre Haute.
prosecutors, Finkbiner met most or all of his victims on a video chat
website, omegle.com, which offers users random, anonymous one-on-one chats
with strangers. The site says it is not for use by children under 13 or
older teens younger than 18 without permission of a parent or guardian.
say the teens thought they were looking at live images of people —
including a couple, in at least one instance — who were acting sexually
and encouraging the teens to do the same, but the images were actually
recordings Finkbiner was showing them. He would later contact the teens
again and threaten to upload the explicit images he recorded of them to
porn websites unless they made more videos for his private use,
"So u wanna
play or b a famous gay porn star?" Finkbiner allegedly asked a Michigan
victims ranged in age from 12 to 16, and prosecutors say they lived in
eight states — Indiana, West Virginia, Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, New York,
Michigan, Illinois and Colorado.
questioning by FBI agents, Finkbiner estimated that he had coerced at
least 100 young people into making explicit videos, according to court
documents. Officials haven't said whether they believe Finkbiner shared
the images with anyone.
say the case is an example of "sextortion," a crime that authorities are
seeing with greater frequency in which Internet predators catch victims in
embarrassing situations online and threaten to expose them unless they
create sexually explicit photos or videos. Hogsett has said that
Finkbiner's could be the largest case of its kind prosecuted in the U.S.
Collins, the vice president of the National Center for Missing and
Exploited Children's exploited children division, said sextortionists
routinely trawl Facebook and other websites searching for embarrassing
photos that they can use to blackmail victims.
certainly becoming more of a trend as people share more images online,"