Police arrest man on charges of extorting teen with threats to post nude photos on internet

2019 file photo of police vehicles in LaVerkin, Utah, June 15, 2019 | File photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A LaVerkin man was arrested Monday for allegedly threatening to post nude images and videos of a 17-year-old girl on the internet, a plan that was thwarted when the FBI received a tip that was sent to local authorities to conduct an investigation.

Marquez Reed Jessup, 27, of LaVerkin, booking photo taken in Washington County, Utah, Sept. 14, 2020 | Photo courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

On Monday, 27-year-old Marquez Jessup was arrested on three separate counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, each a second degree felony, as well as third degree felony charges of sexual solicitation of a child and sexual extortion-coerce to distribute intimate image.

According to a statement released Tuesday by LaVerkin City Police Department spokesperson Tiffany Mower, the arrest stems from an investigation that was set in motion when the Police Department’s investigations division was notified by the FBI task force about a tip they had received regarding an offense that took place when the teen was 17-years-old.

During the investigation, it was found that the teen was solicited by Jessup to send nude photographs of herself in exchange for money, and the suspect later solicited the teen for sex, an act for which Jessop gave the girl additional money, according to the probable cause statement filed in support of Jessup’s arrest.

Mower said that following the initial incident, the suspect continued to solicit images and sex from the girl, even after she told him she no longer wanted any contact with him.

After the teen made multiple requests to cease contact, Jessup allegedly began blackmailing the girl, telling her that he would post the images and videos she had previously sent to him on the internet if she didn’t comply with his requests to continue the arrangement.

After Jessup made the threat to post the images, the victim started an online search to determine any possible ramifications associated with posting intimate images of another person on the internet, which is when she came upon the FBI website and submitted a report of the incident online.

That report was then sent to the LaVerkin Police Department to be investigated Friday, which is when the forensic interview took place.

According to documents filed with the 5th District Court, after speaking to all parties involved, the charges were submitted to the Washington County Attorneys Office for review, and Jessup was arrested and booked into Purgatory Correctional Facility, where he is being held on $10,000 bail. The suspect’s cell phone was also seized by police as evidence.

This report is based on statements from police or other responders and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

Cyber Tip Line

A majority of the tips received by the FBI relating to online exploitation of children originate from the Cyber Tip Line that is part of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Last year, the Cyber Tip Line received roughly 69 million images and videos that were included in more than 17 million reports, 150,600 of which were generated by the general public, while another 16.8 million were sent in by electronic service providers.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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