UGA student charged with cyberstalking Massachusetts woman

UGA student charged with cyberstalking Massachusetts woman
Handcuffs on desk (Source: WALB)

BOSTON, MA. (WALB) - A graduate student at the University of Georgia (UGA) was arrested Friday on charges that he exported a Massachusetts woman for videos, photographs, and sexual communications, and also cyberstalked her for more than a year and a half, according to a press release from the acting United States Attorney Nathaniel Mendell for the District of Massachusetts.

Gary Leach, 23, of Athens, was charged with one count of cyberstalking and one count of extortion through interstate threats. Leach is also set to appear in federal court in the Middle District of Georgia on Friday.

Background:

According to the charging documents, since October 2019, Leach obtained private video calls and sexual photographs from the victim through false promises of payment and secretly recorded the victim during these calls.

The release said Leach allegedly threatened to share the recordings with the victim’s family if she did not continue to send him sexual content over Instagram, and repeatedly harassed and extorted the victim for additional sexually explicit and degrading interactions.

Leach is alleged to have used anonymous Instagram accounts to contact and harass the victim, including accounts featuring nicknames for the victim and several variations of the username “u.kno_who.”

While communicating with the victim, Leach allegedly indicated to her that he engaged in similar conduct with other Instagram users, telling her in one message, “Sweetheart, I have hundreds of vids and thousands of pictures meticulously categorized by name.” Leach allegedly told the victim that some of these women also did not know that they had been recorded, according to the release.

The charge of stalking by electronic means provides for a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000. The charge of extortion by interstate threat of injury to reputation provides for a sentence of up to two years in prison, one year of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

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