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May 7, 2021

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Ridgefield man pleads guilty to child porn charges

He posed as youth, pressured teens into sending images

By , Columbian Assistant Metro Editor
Published:

A Ridgefield man pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court in a scheme in which he enticed and pressured teens into sending him sexually explicit photos and videos.

Joshua Henry Punt, 39, entered guilty pleas to production of child pornography, enticement of a minor, distribution of child pornography and advertisement of child pornography in U.S. District Court in Tacoma, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

He was originally charged in Clark County Superior Court, but his case was later dismissed and moved to federal court.

Punt is scheduled to be sentenced July 26. He faces a mandatory minimum of 15 years in prison and up to life. Prosecutors have agreed to recommend no more than 23 years.

He used the messaging apps Kik and Snapchat to contact teens and convince them to send photos that were sexual in nature. Punt posed as a teenage boy, using profile photos of youthful YouTube personalities, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The victims did not know that Punt was recording their videos and images — a “snap” would automatically delete or notify them if a copy was made — on a second phone. He then demanded additional photos and videos, and threatened to distribute what he already had to the victims’ classmates or community if they didn’t comply, the news release states.

In December 2018, a victim in New York went to the police, who traced the contact back to Punt. His electronic devices were subsequently seized and searched. His cellphone contained hundreds of sexually explicit photos and videos, according to an earlier news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Victims have been identified in New York, Arkansas, California, Texas, Nevada, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The victims range in age from 12 to 16.

In a separate investigation, the FBI identified Punt as the administrator of a child pornography distribution group on Kik and discovered links he posted leading to a cache of child pornography, the news release states.

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