TRENTON – Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman today announced that a Burlington County, N.J., man has been indicted by a state grand jury on multiple counts of extortion and first-degree manufacturing child pornography for allegedly stalking a 13-year-old girl on the Internet and threatening to kidnap her to coerce her into sending him sexually explicit photos of herself.
Craig L. Wyatt, 23, of Willingboro, was indicted yesterday on 10 counts of first-degree manufacturing child pornography, three counts of second-degree theft by extortion, three counts of third-degree criminal coercion, third-degree possession of child pornography, third-degree making terroristic threats and fourth-degree cyber harassment. The charge of first-degree manufacturing child pornography carries a sentence of 10 to 20 years in state prison, 85 percent of which must be served without parole.
The indictment was obtained by the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau. The charges stem from an investigation by the New Jersey State Police Digital Technology Investigations Unit. Wyatt previously was convicted of five counts of terroristic threats in Burlington and Atlantic counties for stalking other girls on Facebook and sending them threatening messages. He served 404 days in jail and was on probation at the time of the conduct alleged in the new indictment.
The new indictment involves a 13-year-old girl Wyatt met on Facebook in May 2014. Wyatt initially befriended the victim, who said she was 15, flattering her and sending her affectionate texts. It is alleged, however, that after he obtained one or more nude photos of her, he became increasingly threatening. On 10 occasions between May 9 and June 2, 2014, Wyatt allegedly used threats to obtain additional photos of the victim of a more sexually explicit nature. During a series of text messages via cell phone and Facebook, he allegedly repeatedly threatened to kidnap her and/or post the photos of her he already possessed on the Internet if she did not meet his demands for sexually explicit photos. He allegedly said others were going to help him kidnap her and he was going to take her away and impregnate her. After a concerned relative of the victim learned of the alleged threats, the relative contacted the State Police Digital Technology Investigations Unit, which investigated and arrested Wyatt on Oct. 31, 2014. Detectives seized Wyatt’s cell phone, allegedly discovering 36 sexually explicit images of the victim, 34 saved in his cell phone and two saved in his Facebook account.
“In case after case, we see this alarming pattern of a predator who befriends a young girl using the anonymity of the Internet and then quickly turns from a friend into a terrifying stalker,” said Acting Attorney General Hoffman. “We urge parents to warn their children of these sexual predators, who ruthlessly exploit the fears of their young victims to gain control of them. We intend to make sure that Wyatt pays for the abhorrent crimes he allegedly committed against this child.”
“Wyatt has been charged multiple times with engaging in predatory behavior against underage girls using social media,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “In this case, however, his alleged conduct includes manufacturing child pornography, which carries a prison sentence of up to 20 years. We’ll continue to work closely with the State Police to make sure alleged sexual predators like Wyatt are put in prison for lengthy terms.”
“Unfortunately, Wyatt is not the only alleged child predator lurking on the Internet,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “The New Jersey State Police Digital Technology Investigations Unit will continue to aggressively root out the depraved who seek to exploit children, but it is equally important for parents to be the first line of defense by monitoring their child’s online activity.”
Deputy Attorney General Denise Grugan presented the case to the state grand jury for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau. Acting Attorney General Hoffman commended the detectives from the New Jersey State Police Digital Technology Investigations Unit who conducted the investigation.
The first-degree counts of manufacturing child pornography carry a sentence of 10 to 20 years in state prison, including a mandatory minimum term of parole ineligibility equal to 85 percent of the sentence imposed, and a fine of up to $500,000. Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000, while third-degree charges carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $15,000. Fourth-degree charges carry a sentence of up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
The indictment was handed up to Superior Court Judge Mary C. Jacobson in Mercer County, who assigned the case to Burlington County, where Wyatt will be ordered to appear in court at a later date for arraignment on the charges. Wyatt currently is lodged in the Burlington County Jail with bail set at $100,000.
Acting Attorney General Hoffman and Director Honig urged anyone who suspects improper contact by persons communicating with children on the Internet or possible exploitation or sexual abuse of children to contact the New Jersey Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Tipline at 888-648-6007.