SEATTLE -- A deployed Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier is under investigation for allegedly paying, coercing and blackmailing at least two or more underage girls into giving naked photos and videos of themselves online, a senior U.S. military official confirmed Friday.
Washington State Patrol believes there are at least 10 victims between the ages of 13 and 17 years old who exchanged nude photos with the 24-year-old JBLM soldier. All of the girls are students in the Pierce County area.
Investigators said it was it went on for about 10 months. At one point, they said he started demanding pictures from the girls. If they didn't comply, he threatened to post the pictures online and tell the girls' parents.
The WSP investigation uncovered Facebook posts, text mesages and even Skype sessions where both the girls and the soldier would exchange nude and graphic images. It allegedly went on over the course of about 10 months, while the soldier was based at JBLM and on active-duty in Afghanistan.
It only stopped when one of the girls went to her parents when the extortion became too much. They contacted authorities and WSP's Missing and Exploited Children's Task Force (MECTF) launched their investigation in April. But police said it may not end there.
"It appears they met on through Facebook. Most of the activities involve nothing more than online connection; however, we do know of several instances where we know the suspect and victims met in person," said Ron Mead with the Washington State Patrol. "We're not gonna get into details of what that entails or where the investigation may lead in those contacts."
Currently, the soldier remains in Afghanistan and is not technically in custody, but he has been restricted from all Internet use. A senior U.S. military official said his weapons have been taken away as a precaution.
In additional to criminal charges in Pierce County, the soldier could face a military court martial.
The Washington State Patrol believes there may be more victims out there. Anyone with information is asked to contact Washington State Patrol.