CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. — Federal prosecutors and law enforcement are raising awareness about the dangers children face online after a Chesterfield man was convicted for coercing underage victims to create explicit videos.
In May, a federal judge in Richmondsentenced Joshua Brady to 30 years in prison for producing child pornography.
The 36-year-old Matoaca man met his first underage teenage victim on a dating app while she was a high school freshman.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Moore, who prosecuted the case, said Brady impersonated a member of a wealthy overseas family and would coerce victims in creating explicit videos using Skype. Brady then threatened to share those explicit videos with the victim’s friends and family.
Sadly, FBI agent Christopher Ford said the victim suffered in silence for years.
“The victim was so afraid to speak to her family that she kept this in for so long. She didn't want to go to the police until she turned 18, because she was afraid her parents would get involved,” he recalled. “She hid this and she kept this internal for at least four years of her life.”
Multiple victims were made known when the initial victim came forward, Ford said.
“Had she not said anything, Mr. Brady possibly would still be on the streets victimizing other people,” Ford stated. “It was very brave of her to come speak to us and, because of that, we were able to put Mr. Brady away.”
Both Ford and Moore say these “sextortion” type of crimes are growing in Virginia. Sometimes the victims are committing suicide before the case makes it to court.
To answer to the issue, the Eastern District of Virginia U.S. Attorney’s Office launched “UnMasked” in 2021.
UnMasked is a community-based educational outreach and prevention program in Virginia dedicated to raising awareness and educating the community about the prevalence of online sexual exploitation involving children and young adults.
The core curriculum is provided by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s (NCMEC) NetSmartz program, and Moore would like to bring the program into schools.
He realized that a parent must be proactive to help their children from online predators.
“You should reasonably monitor what they're doing. But make sure that the lines of communication are open,” he explained. “One of the most tragic things about this case, I think, is that one of the victims is now in college and her parents don't know that this has happened with Mr. Brady.”
Brady is currently serving time in the Northern Neck Regional Jail.
This case was investigated by the FBI Washington Field Office’s Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force. The task force is composed of FBI agents, along with other federal agents and detectives from northern Virginia and the District of Columbia.
The task force investigates and brings federal charges against individuals engaged in the exploitation of children and those engaged in human trafficking.
To report an incident involving online sexual exploitation, call 1-800-843-5678 or submit a report at report.cybertip.org. To request an UnMasked event at your school or organization, email EDVA’s Community Outreach Coordinator at USAVAE.UnMasked@usdoj.gov