Brigham Young University student found guilty in sextortion case

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PROVO, Utah (ABC4) — The suspect in a sexual extortion case targeting a 16-year-old girl that took place in Lehi in May 2021 has been sentenced to less than a year in prison.

Benjamin Shields, 21, was convicted of sexual extortion with intent to coerce for distributing and scenting to 364 days in Utah County Jail along with 48 months probation and a $5,000 fine by the judge Robert Lunnen of Provo 4th District Court in July. 6.

Lehi Police were initially notified of a crime that occurred under the jurisdiction of the Division of Child and Family Services in mid-May 2021. According to investigators, police were notified that a teenage girl allegedly was solicited by a man via social networks. Snapchat platform to send nude photos and videos of herself for up to $46,000. The girl agreed and sent several explicit photos and videos of herself, although Shields never sent any money.

Officers say Shields began threatening to expose the girl by posting the photos and videos online unless she agreed to send more. Records show that the girl told officers multiple times that she refused to do any of what Shields asked of her and that he never paid her any money.

Through an investigation, police discovered that the phone Shields was using to access the Snapchat account through which he communicated with the girl was connected to Maryland. From there, Lehi Police turned the investigation over to Maryland Police. In September 2021, Maryland Police notified Lehi Police of Shields’ attendance at Brigham Young University (BYU) in Provo.

Lehi police were able to locate Shields on the BYU campus and questioned him. After receiving a search warrant for Shields’ phone, officers found approximately 230 nude photographs of the girl.

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