PORTLAND, Tenn. (WKRN) — A multi-state sexploitation investigation broadens as police now confirm that multiple teenage boys could be charged with supplying salacious images of teenage girls.
After a News 2 investigation Wednesday, more victims came forward, according to Portland Police.
Not only did alleged victims contact police, but local school resource officers who work closely with students in schools also reached out to Portland detectives.
A Sumner County high school girl contacted News 2 via Facebook to report that she too had allegedly been victimized. The young woman said she had yet to contact law enforcement authorities.
News 2 gave her information so she could do so.
Lt. Jason Arnold, who spearheaded the investigation in Portland says he is pleased that more victims came forward.
Lt. Arnold says the investigation centers around a Portland teen with the multiple social media platforms and hard to track IP addresses. Police say he tricked and coerced multiple young women in multiple states into sending salacious pictures and videos of themselves out of fear.
“Yes, some of the girls were vulnerable and were scared about what he was threatening,” said Lt. Arnold.
According to Lt. Arnold, the 16-year-old attended high school in Portland and a high school in Kentucky. Detectives say he victimized young girls in Tennessee, Indiana and Kentucky.
“He went to school with a number of them locally and in another state,” said Lt. Arnold.
Arnold says prior to the News 2 investigation, seven victims were identified in Tennessee, one in Bowling Green, and one in Bloomington, Indiana.
According to detectives, the 16-year-old fooled the girls into thinking he was someone else. And if the girls didn’t cooperate, police say he threatened to embarrass them or even harm them.
Lt. Arnold says it started with threats to release the videos to others in the school. But it escalated to threats of violence and rape.
And police now confirm to News 2 that the 16-year-old had a network of other teenage boys who supplied him with pictures of the naked girls.
Police say these other teens were often boyfriends of the girls who had privately exchanged images with their girlfriends.
What the arrangement was between the 16-year-old and the other teens is not yet known.
Police say once the 16-year-old had the images of the girls, he then allegedly used the material to coerce them into sending even more lurid photos and videos that he demanded.
When busted, Arnold says the 16-year-old was also found in possession of child pornography and was trading this illegal material with others.
“It is awful. It shows his progression, becoming more violent,” added Arnold.
Police say if you were victimized, contact your local police jurisdiction.