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Man charged with ‘sextortion’ of minors; hundreds of victims possible

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A Brazil, Ind. man was arrested Friday after authorities said he coerced minors into recording sexually explicit acts and then sending it to him.

Richard Finkbiner, 39, faces charges of child sexual exploitation.

U.S. Attorney Joseph Hogsett, alongside federal and state officials, announced the charges at a news conference Monday, stating this could be the largest U.S. case of online sexual extortion of children.

Finkbiner is accused of coercing at least two 14-year-old boys in Maryland and Michigan to engage in sexually explicit activity that Finkbiner captured with a webcam.  Authorities said the complaint alleges Finkbiner made contact with the two male minors using a video chat website between November 2011 and February 2012.

After recording videos from his webcam, it is alleged Finkbiner told the minors he would post the video clips online and send them to the minors’ friends unless they recorded and sent him sexually explicit videos of themselves.

Although only two minors have been identified in the early stages of the investigation, authorities said there could be hundreds of more victims.  During a federal search of Finkbiner’s home, FBI agents discovered thousands of sexually explicit images and videos depicting hundreds of individuals, which they said may indicate the existence of many other victims.

“Indiana’s nationally-recognized child exploitation prosecution team is at the forefront of such sextortion prosecutions, and our top priority is to keep children safe from this type of horrible abuse,” said U.S. Attorney Hogsett. “Unfortunately, it appears based on the criminal complaint that there may be many other victims in this case, possibly here in Indiana and across the country.”

“We will continue to pursue all those who victimize children,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert Holley. “Through investigations with our local, state, federal and international partners, we will bring them to justice.”

Authorities said until initial forensic examinations are complete, it is impossible to estimate the possible number of Indiana victims that could have been affected.

“I urge anyone with information about this case to contact the federal authorities as we move forward with this investigation,” said U.S. Attorney Hogsett. “I pledge that this office will not rest in our efforts to work with investigators to identify any and all other potential victims resulting from these alleged actions.”

Anyone with information on this case or who may have been victimized is urged to contact the FBI at (877) 542-8979.

Finkbiner faces a maximum sentence of 30 years on current charges.  He will appear in court for a detention hearing on Wednesday in Terre Haute.

“It may be our natural human instinct to be in denial about this and to think that couldn’t happen to my child, but we have to get over that. One in five children is solicited online,” said Runkle-DeLorme.

She also said it is important for parents to keep a continuous dialogue with children and teenagers about sexual predators and appropriate behavior online.

“Talking to your children that if anyone should ever approach them online and talk to them in a way that makes them uncomfortable, then they should immediately go to a parent and talk to someone about that,” said Runkle-DeLorme.