Yesterday, David B. Fein, announced that JASON BETENSKY, 27, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, formerly of Florida, pleaded guilty on Monday, January 24, before United States District Judge Christopher F. Droney in Hartford to one count of using the internet to entice a minor to engage in illicit sexual activity. As part of his guilty plea, BETENSKY admitted that he coerced, and then threatened, minors to send him sexually explicit images of themselves over the Internet.
"This defendant engaged in a lengthy, manipulative scheme during which he tricked many minor victims to send him sexually explicit images of themselves over the Internet," stated U.S. Attorney Fein. "The federal penalties for this type of crime are appropriately severe. I want to thank the FBI and all the members of the Connecticut Computer Crimes Task Force for their efforts in bringing Mr. Betensky and other individuals who exploit children to justice. I also want to commend the Jupiter Police Department in Jupiter, Florida, for referring this serious matter to federal authorities."
According to court documents and statements made in court, from approximately 2003 to 2007, BETENSKY was employed as a counselor at a summer camp in North Carolina. As a camp counselor, BETENSKY learned information about the campers, about their relationships with one another, and about what happened to them during the summer. When camp was not in session, BETENSKY learned additional information about the campers from social networking sites on the Internet and used the Internet to contact a number of the campers. When contacting the campers, BETENSKY posed as a young female, sometimes pretending to have met them at camp. BETENSKY used the information that he obtained to appear legitimate, including information about "mutual" friends and about events that took place at the camp.
After starting an online relationship with a camper, BETENSKY would persuade the camper to engage in sexually explicit conversations. BETENSKY also persuaded his victims to send him sexually explicit pictures and videos of themselves. BETENSKY reciprocated by sending pornographic pictures of unknown females that he obtained on the Internet. BETENSKY also recorded video feeds that were sent by the victims.
BETENSKY then used the pictures and recorded videos of a victim to pressure the victim if the victim attempted to end the online relationship with him. Specifically, BETENSKY threatened to send, and on occasion did send, copies of the pictures and videos to friends and family members of the victim.
Through this scheme, BETENSKY was able to coerce at least nine campers, all of whom he knew to be under the age of 18, to send him sexually explicit images and videos of themselves.
Judge Droney has scheduled sentencing for April 14, 2011, at which time BETENSKY faces a minimum term of imprisonment of 10 years and a maximum term of imprisonment of life.
BETENSKY was arrested on September 20, 2010. Following his arrest, BETENSKY was released into the custody of his parents on a bond in the amount of $75,000.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Connecticut Computer Crimes Task Force, which includes federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The Jupiter (Fl.) Police Department has assisted the investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Edward Chang.
The Connecticut Computer Crimes Task Force investigates crimes occurring over the Internet, including computer intrusion, Internet fraud, copyright violations, Internet threats and harassment and on-line crimes against children. The Task Force also provides computer forensic review services for participating agencies. The Task Force is housed in the main FBI office in New Haven, Connecticut. For more information about the Task Force, please contact the FBI at 203-777-6311.
U.S. Attorney Fein noted that this prosecution is part of the U.S. Department of Justice's Project Safe Childhood Initiative, which is aimed at protecting children from sexual abuse and exploitation. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov .
To report cases of child exploitation, please visit www.cybertipline.com .