St. Johns County Man Sentenced to 105 Years in Federal Prison
JACKSONVILLE, FL—United States District Judge Marcia Morales Howard has sentenced Lucas Michael Chansler (31, St. Johns) to 105 years in federal prison for engaging in an extortion scheme to produce child pornography. On August 13, 2014, Chansler pleaded guilty to nine counts of producing child pornography.
According to court documents, from 2007 and continuing until January 2010, Chansler transmitted threatening communications to hundreds of girls over the Internet. He transmitted these threats with the intent to extort photographs and webcam videos showing the victims exposing themselves and engaging in sexually explicit conduct. Chansler pretended to be a friend, acquaintance, or admirer of the victims on various social networking websites.
After gaining some measure of trust from a particular child, Chansler would invite her to engage in a live video chat and later would ask her to expose herself. Unbeknownst to the child, he was recording the video session. Chansler often enticed his victims to expose themselves by showing a streaming video of a minor male exposing himself or engaging in masturbation. If a victim did expose herself, he recorded it and then later sent it to her over the Internet. Chansler would then demand additional and more graphic images or webcam videos. He would inform the child that if she did not comply, he would post the images and videos online, or send them to her family and friends.
Using information received from the parents of one victim and working with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), agents were able to identify Chansler and locate his residence. A federal search warrant was executed at the residence on January 8, 2010.
During an interview, Chansler stated that that he used social networking sites to meet girls who ranged in age from 13 to 18. He stated that he targeted underage girls because adult women were “too smart” to fall for his scheme.
Forensic analyses of Chansler’s computer media revealed hundreds of folders labeled with the name of each child victim. These folders contained personal information specific to the victims, as well as related chat logs and videos or digital photos. Many of the chat logs contained the threats Chansler had made to the children. In several of the videos, the victims are seen crying and pleading with Chansler. In total, he had approximately 80,000 images and videos in his possession.
According to court testimony, Chansler targeted 350 child victims in 26 different states throughout the U.S., three Canadian provinces, and the United Kingdom, 106 of which have been positively identified. According to NCMEC, in terms of number of victims, this case is the largest “sextortion” case prosecuted to date in the United States.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the Florida Attorney Generals Office, the St. Johns County Sheriffs Office, and numerous other agencies working in Internet Crimes Against Children (“ICAC”) task forces across the United States and Canada. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney D. Rodney Brown.
“Child predators, such as Chansler, are using increasingly devious techniques to lure and exploit innocent children,” said U.S. Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III. “Our Office will continue to work with law enforcement to investigate and prosecute these cases. Protecting vulnerable victims, such as children, is a top priority of our Office. For years, we have been at the forefront in the country in prosecuting federal crimes against children.”
It is another case brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc.