Sheriff's deputy charged with seeking naked photos from girl

AP News
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Posted: Feb 06, 2017 1:56 PM

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A South Carolina deputy posing as a teen coerced an 11-year-old girl into sending him nude photographs and threatened to publicize them if she stopped, authorities said Monday.

Spartanburg County Sheriff's Sgt. Chris Wilbanks was fired Friday after being charged with production of child pornography, Sheriff Chuck Wright said in a statement.

Wilbanks posed as a 14-year-old boy nicknamed "Redneck Rick" on social media and talked to the girl, who said she was 12, Homeland Security Special Agent Steven Miles said in a sworn statement filed in federal court. Wilbanks' age wasn't immediately available, and court records didn't indicate whether he has a lawyer.

The 11-year-old girl sent nearly a dozen pornographic images in all, and Miles said she was crying in nearly every one of them. "'Redneck Rick' even told the (girl) to not look so upset and smile," Miles wrote in a document detailing the disturbing pictures Wilbanks sought and received.

After the girl sent a photo with her clothes on, Wilbanks kept pressuring her to send more risque shots, promising he was deleting the pictures after he saw them. But when she sent a partially nude photo, Wilbanks told the girl he would show the nude pictures to others unless she kept sending photos revealing the specific parts of her naked body that he wanted to see, Miles said.

The girl's mother went to police and investigators were able to trace the girl's conversations to Wilbanks' cellphone. He told Homeland Security agents who questioned him that he threw his phone into a creek as he drove to the interview, according to court records.

Wilbanks said this was the only time he had ever done this kind of thing.

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