Caleb Vincent McLaughlin/Hennepin County Jail

A Pine City man has been sentenced to 350 months in federal prison followed by 12 years of supervised release for producing, receiving, and distributing images of child pornography, and coercing and enticing minors to engage in illegal sexual activity, U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger announced Monday.

Caleb Vincent McLaughlin, 26, was charged last summer in connection to sexually exploiting minors through the use of social media, including enticing or coercing some victims to engage in prostitution or sex acts.

McLaughlin was originally charged with soliciting, producing, receiving, and distributing images of child pornography, and enticing a child to engage in illegal sexual activity.

Beginning about January 2019, McLaughlin used multiple social media accounts to solicit and direct over 200 minor victims to produce and send sexually explicit images, of whom 26 minors have been identified between the ages of 11 and 16 years old in Minnesota and Wisconsin, according to facts contained in court documents and McLaughlin’s guilty plea.

McLaughlin used a variety of aliases and Snapchat IDs including “Jake Benson,” “Lift11” or “Tech4cm” in his scheme. McLaughlin sometimes purported to be 17 years old to prey on minor girls he met online in order to entice and coerce them to create sexually explicit images and videos, Luger’s office said.

McLaughlin targeted minor victims not only to obtain child pornography, but also to coerce minor victims to meet him in person so he could commit hands-on sexual abuse, according to Luger’s office. McLaughlin offered minors drugs, alcohol, vape pens, cash, and gift cards in exchange for sex acts. Then, McLaughlin documented that abuse by producing child pornography videos. McLaughlin also distributed numerous videos and images of child pornography, some of which was self-produced and depicted him sexually assaulting minor victims, Luger’s press release said.

McLaughlin was sentenced on Monday after pleading guilty last October to two counts of production of child pornography, one count of receipt of child pornography, one count of distribution of child pornography, and one count of coercion and enticement of a minor.

At sentencing, Judge Patrick Schiltz said the sentence was one of the longest he had ever imposed and described McLaughlin’s actions as “shocking, even to someone like me, a federal judge who has been sentencing [child sex offenders] for over two decades,” Luger’s press release said.

“For years, Caleb McLaughlin used social media to groom, sexually exploit, and abuse hundreds of minor victims. He preyed upon the most vulnerable, with some victims as young as 11 or 12 years old,” said Luger. “Protecting Minnesota children from the trauma of sexual exploitation is a critical part of our mission, and I thank all of our partners in law enforcement for their diligence on this investigation.”

The case against McLaughlin was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice.

The FBI reported in January that sextortion is a growing threat to minors. In the six-month period from October 2022 to March 2023, the FBI observed at least a 20% increase in reporting of financially motivated sextortion incidents involving minor victims compared to the same time period the previous year.

If you or someone you know believes that they are a victim of sextortion or financially motivated sextortion, immediately report the activity to law enforcement. You can report it to the FBI by calling 1-800-CALL-FBI or visiting tips.fbi.gov.

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Minnesota Crime Watch & Information publishes news, info and commentary about crime, public safety and livability issues in Minneapolis, the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota.

 



Crime Watch MN

Minnesota Crime Watch & Information publishes news, info and commentary about crime, public safety and livability issues in Minneapolis, the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota.





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