TRENTON – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced that a man who formerly lived in Union City, N.J., was sentenced to prison today for using the internet to blackmail five young teenage girls across the United States into posing nude and engaging in sexual conduct on web cameras while he recorded them.
Daniel Derringer III, 29, of Lake Worth, Fla., formerly of Union City, N.J. was sentenced today to 12 years in state prison by Superior Court Judge Patrick J. Arre in Hudson County. Derringer pleaded guilty on Nov. 17 to two counts of manufacturing child pornography (2nd degree), one count of distribution of child pornography (2nd degree), and one count of debauching the morals of a child (3rd degree). He was sentenced to six years in prison for each of the manufacturing charges, with the sentences to run consecutively, and concurrent sentences of five and three years on the distribution and debauching charges. Derringer will be required to register as a sex offender under Megan’s Law and will be subject to parole supervision for life.
Deputy Attorney General Brandy Malfitano took the guilty plea and handled the sentencing for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau. Derringer was charged in an investigation by the New Jersey State Police Digital Technology Investigations Unit and the Division of Criminal Justice. Three of the victims were 15 at the time of the alleged offenses, and one was 14. The fifth was 16 at the time. Under state law in effect at the time, a child was defined as under 16 for purposes of the child pornography law; now the law defines a child as under 18.
“By threatening to expose multiple underage girls to disgrace and embarrassment on the internet, Derringer not only sexually exploited his victims, but also subjected them to incalculable emotional harm,” said Attorney General Grewal. “Were it not for the courage of the Minnesota victim and the diligence of our law enforcement team, he might still be stalking young girls instead of serving this lengthy prison sentence.”
“We’ve made child protection a top priority and will continue our aggressive efforts to investigate and prosecute internet predators and child pornography offenders, in collaboration with the New Jersey State Police and our other law enforcement partners,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “This case graphically illustrates the dangers of the internet and the need for parents to be vigilant and keep the lines of communication open with their children.”
“The real hero of this story was the brave, young girl who had the courage and resolve to capture a photo of her tormentor and provide it to law enforcement, which ultimately led to his arrest, conviction, and prison sentence,” said Colonel Patrick Callahan, Acting Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “Not all of the victims of monsters like Derringer know where to turn, so State Police detectives will continue to aggressively hunt these criminals down, pulling them from internet anonymity and forcing them to answer for their heinous crimes.”
The investigation began when a 15-year-old girl in Minnesota reported to local police that she had been coerced into engaging in sexual conduct on a webcam by a person who contacted her online through a social networking site, claiming to be another girl of the same age. The person, who was later identified as Derringer, transmitted a video of an underage girl touching herself in a sexual manner to make the victim believe she was seeing the girl who was chatting with her. The investigation revealed that Derringer convinced the victim to take off her top and expose her breasts in front of her webcam. Derringer recorded the act. He then got on his own webcam, revealing that he had been lying about his identity, and told her that if she didn’t do as he told her, he would post the video of her exposing her breasts on the Internet. Derringer ordered the girl to disrobe. He then demanded that she touch herself in a sexual manner and assume various poses to better expose herself. Meanwhile, Derringer masturbated and exposed his genitals to the girl via his webcam. He also showed her sexually explicit videos of other young girls.
The victim used her cell phone to take a photo of her computer screen with her assailant’s face visible, and police in Minnesota traced the communications to the address of Derringer, who was living in New Jersey at that time. They alerted the New Jersey State Police. The State Police matched the photo taken by the victim with Derringer. The State Police executed a search warrant on April 4, 2013 at Derringer’s residence in Union City and seized computer equipment. Derringer was arrested by the Union City Police three days later when he returned from a trip out of state.
Forensic examination of the computer equipment seized from Derringer revealed numerous videos of incidents similar to that which the Minnesota girl reported to the police. Detectives, working with other law enforcement agencies across the U.S., were able to identify four additional victims in Washington State, Florida, Indiana and Ohio who were subsequently interviewed. The investigation revealed that Derringer used similar methods with those victims, meeting them on chat sites and posing as a girl to convince them to expose and in some cases touch themselves on webcams while he secretly recorded them. As in the first case, Derringer used videos of underage girls engaging in sexual conduct to trick the victims into believing he was a girl and encourage them to engage in further sexual conduct. He then made threats to the victims to coerce them into engaging in more sexually explicit acts, usually threatening to post online the videos he already obtained. In most of these cases, he remained disguised as a female, but in one case he revealed his identity as a man once he began making threats.
Deputy Attorney General Lilianne Daniel presented the case to the state grand jury for the Division of Criminal Justice Computer Analysis & Technology Unit, within the Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Julia Glass and Bureau Chief Michael Monahan. Attorney General Grewal commended the detectives who conducted the investigation for the New Jersey State Police Digital Technology Investigations Unit. He also thanked the Union City Police Department and the police departments that assisted in Minnesota and the other states. They are not being named so as not to give the locations of the victims.
Attorney General Grewal and Director Honig urged anyone who has information about the distribution of child pornography on the internet – or who suspects improper contact by unknown persons communicating with children via 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.
Stephen G. McCarthy Jr., Esq., New York, N.Y.
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