A Ridgefield man was sentenced Monday to 20 years in federal prison in a scheme in which he enticed and pressured teens into sending him sexually explicit photos and videos.
Joshua Henry Punt, 39, pleaded guilty in April 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.
In addition to prison, Punt was sentenced to a lifetime of supervised release, and he will be required to register as a sex offender.
Punt 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 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. He was arrested in May 2019.
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 years of age, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
At sentencing, U.S. District Judge Benjamin H. Settle told Punt: “You could see the pain in those girls, and you continued to do it — to eight precious, innocent young girls — you tortured them.”
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.
The scheme was investigated by the Vancouver Police Department’s Digital Evidence Cybercrime Unit, in conjunction with Homeland Security Investigations.