A man from Cumming was sentenced this week to 28 years in federal prison in a child pornography case, in which he was accused of using Snapchat and Instagram to offer gift certificates to girls in exchange for sexually explicit material. This went on for at least two years until his arrest in August 2019, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Edward Okenica, 24, pleaded guilty in March to 11 counts of producing child pornography in the case referred to by the U.S. Attorney’s Office as “sextorting.”
“Okenica victimized dozens of girls as young as 12 years old from his home,” U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak said in a statement. “He is a sexual predator who exploited the vulnerability and fragility of his victims by relying on the relative anonymity of social media platforms. This case is a reminder that sextortion remains a huge threat to our youth and to their families, and parents need to remain vigilant to guard against it by monitoring their children’s social media activities.”
Investigators identified 36 victims in the U.S. and overseas, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
“If the girls expressed an unwillingness to keep producing more photos or videos, Okenica bullied, threatened, and extorted the girls to force them to continue,” according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. “He threatened to share their videos online with the girls’ friends and/or family, and in multiple cases did in fact carry out his threats. If a girl blocked Okenica on Snapchat or Instagram, he frequently established new accounts to find the child and demand that she send him more sexually explicit photographs and videos.”
Following his release from prison, Okenica will be on supervised release for life and will have to register as a sex offender.
The case was investigated by the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations and the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office.