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California man allegedly coerced Jefferson County teens into Internet video sex acts

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WATERTOWN — A California man is in federal custody after he allegedly coerced two Jefferson County teenagers to perform sexual acts on video that were relayed to him over the Internet and saved.

Dennis Whitt, of Marina, Calif., was charged Wednesday with production of child pornography after FBI agents raided his home Tuesday and seized computers and laptops, according to KION-TV in central California. Another news outlet, KSBW-TV, in California, reported his age as 40.

According to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court, Syracuse, a New York state police investigator contacted an FBI special agent in October regarding a report made by a father in Jefferson County that his 15-year-old daughter, her 16-year-old friend and a 9-year-old girl had been engaged in “video chats” over the Internet that were sexual in nature with an unknown man.

A trooper interviewed the father and three girls and learned that in late May 2013 the trio began been using a website to video-chat with strangers. While doing so, they encountered a person who told them that his name was “Lucas” and that he was 16 years old and from California. The person used a picture of someone else and did not engage in video chats, instead typing his part of the conversations.

According to the complaint, the girls reported that they began to play a game whereby they would do things on camera to “earn points.” The tasks “began with things like waving and blowing kisses,” but escalated into explicit sexual acts that were broadcast on Skype. The 16-year-old also reported that she contacted “Lucas” on her iPod Touch using Pinger to send and receive messages, during which he encouraged her to perform sexual acts.

Through subpoenas issued to Skype, Google, Pinger and Comcast, investigators allegedly were able to trace various Internet and email accounts to Mr. Whitt or his residence. On Tuesday, a federal judge in San Jose, Calif., authorized a search warrant of the residence.

According to the complaint, Mr. Whitt was home at the time the warrant was executed and he admitted that he met girls online, engaged in sexually explicit chats with them and captured videos of girls engaged in sexually explicit conduct. When shown pictures of the two oldest girls from Jefferson County, he allegedly admitted that he recognized them and had encouraged them to perform explicit sexual acts while he recorded the acts.

KION-TV reported Thursday that Mr. Whitt is due to be extradited to New York “within the next couple of weeks.”

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