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Indictment: California man induced Jefferson County children into sexual acts

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A California man has been named in a federal grand jury indictment alleging that he induced four Jefferson County children into performing sexual acts on videos that then were sent to him over the Internet.

Dennis Whitt, 40, of Marina, Calif., is charged with seven counts of production of child pornography in an indictment handed up Thursday in U.S. District Court, Syracuse. It is alleged that on seven occasions in July and August 2013 he persuaded four girls, ages 16, 15, 9 and 7, to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of transmitting a live video of the conduct to his computer.

According to a criminal complaint filed in federal court, a New York state police investigator contacted an FBI special agent in October regarding a report made by a father in Jefferson County that his 15-year-old daughter, her 16-year-old friend and a 9-year-old girl had been engaged in “video chats” over the Internet that were sexual in nature with an unknown man.

A trooper interviewed the father and three girls and learned that in late May 2013, the trio began using a website to video chat with strangers. While doing so, they encountered a person who told them that his name was “Lucas” and that he was 16 years old and from California. The person used a picture of someone else and did not engage in video chats, instead typing his part of the conversations.

According to the complaint, the girls reported that they began to play a game whereby they would do things on camera to “earn points.” The tasks “began with things like waving and blowing kisses,” but escalated into explicit sexual acts that were broadcast on Skype. The 16-year-old also reported that she contacted “Lucas” on her iPod Touch using Pinger to send and receive messages, during which he encouraged her to perform sexual acts.

Through subpoenas issued to Skype, Google, Pinger and Comcast, investigators allegedly were able to trace various Internet and email accounts to Mr. Whitt or his residence and a search warrant was obtained for the home April 29.

According to the complaint, Mr. Whitt was home at the time the warrant was executed and he admitted that he met girls online, engaged in sexually explicit chats with them and captured videos of girls engaged in sexually explicit conduct. When shown pictures of the two oldest girls from Jefferson County, he allegedly admitted that he recognized them and had encouraged them to perform explicit sexual acts while he recorded them.

Mr. Whitt, who has been held in federal custody since his arrest in April, waived his right to appear at arraignment Thursday and entered not guilty pleas to the charges.

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