|TRENTON –Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino announced that a Burlington County, N.J., man pleaded guilty today to a charge of manufacturing child pornography for coercing a 13-year-old girl he met online into sending him sexually explicit photos of herself.
Craig L. Wyatt, 25, of Willingboro, pleaded guilty today to charges of first-degree manufacturing child pornography and third-degree possession of child pornography before Superior Court Judge Terrence R. Cook in Burlington County. Under the plea agreement, the state will recommend that Wyatt be sentenced to eight years in state prison, including nearly seven years of parole ineligibility under the No Early Release Act. He will be required to register as a sex offender under Megan’s Law and will be subject to parole supervision for life. Wyatt is scheduled for sentencing on Aug. 18.
Deputy Attorneys General Jillian Carpenter and Brian Faulk took the guilty plea for 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. The investigation revealed that Wyatt threatened to take the girl away from her home against her will if she did not send him sexually explicit photos of herself. Wyatt was on trial in the case in August, but the trial ended in a mistrial. 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 over a year in jail and was on probation at the time of the crime to which he pleaded guilty today.
“Wyatt is a dangerous predator who repeatedly stalked underage girls on the Internet and, in this case, sexually exploited a 13-year-old girl by blackmailing and terrorizing her,” said Attorney General Porrino. “This guilty plea ensures that Wyatt will spend a long time in prison, where he can’t threaten other vulnerable children.”
“This case highlights the dangers posed by predators like Wyatt who rely on the anonymity of the Internet to target children through social media,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We’ll continue to work tirelessly with our law enforcement partners at all levels to catch these sexual predators and stop them from harming innocent children.”
“Wyatt’s beguiling demeanor towards his 13-year-old victim gave way to threats of abduction, rape, and blackmail,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “The best defense against online predators is for parents to closely monitor the online activity of their children.”
Wyatt was indicted on Nov. 17, 2015, on charges related to the 13-year-old girl, whom he met on Facebook in May 2014. He initially befriended the victim, who said she was 15, flattering her and sending her affectionate texts. However, after he obtained one or more nude photos of her, he became increasingly threatening. The state’s investigation revealed that, on 10 occasions in May and June of 2014, Wyatt 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, Wyatt repeatedly threatened to abduct the girl from her home 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 said others were going to help him take her away and he was going to impregnate her. After a concerned relative of the victim learned of the 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.
Deputy Attorney General Denise Grugan presented the case to the state grand jury for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau. Attorney General Porrino commended the detectives from the New Jersey State Police Digital Technology Investigations Unit who conducted the investigation.
Wyatt is lodged in the Burlington County Jail pending sentencing.
Attorney General Porrino 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.
John Cirrinicione, Esq., Deputy Assistant Public Defender, Burlington County.
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