April 24, 2014

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Man allegedly tried to extort nude pics from teens

COLUMBIA STATION — A 23-year-old Columbia Station man with cerebral palsy is under investigation for sending text messages and emails to cast members of the touring version of “Billy Elliot: The Musical” demanding that the actors send him nude photos.

The man, William T. Koch, was arrested last week on a charge of sexual exploitation of children for allegedly posing as a 15-year-old girl on Facebook and convincing a 15-year-old Canadian boy to masturbate online and then threatening to expose images of him if he didn’t have sex with his 10-year-old brother.

According to an affidavit filed in the case by FBI Special Agent Kelly Liberti, Koch created fictitious online accounts under the name of “Ariella Gold” and tried to have online conversations with the Canadian boy several times last year.

On Sept. 9, the person using the Gold identity offered to strip for the Canadian and the two began exchanging messages on Skype “requesting sexual acts and pictures from one another,” Liberti wrote.

Gold claimed her webcam was broken but sent nude photos of a naked female teen and convinced the boy that she would send more nude pictures if he masturbated on camera.

Koch allegedly gave the teen commands as he masturbated. But when the boy refused to show his face on camera, Koch allegedly sent him a message threatening to release images of the boy masturbating to his friends if he didn’t have sex with his brother.

“So u either (expletive) your brother Tomorrow morning and let me watch, or else it goes on facebook,” the affidavit quoted Koch as messaging the boy. “And in all honesty, those pictures are not of me…And if you do decide to post the pics I sent you as blackmail, go right ahewd (sic). That profile, and this Skype, for that matter, are all fake. I am a 45 year old dude.”

The boy told his mother what happened, and she contacted Canadian law enforcement. Police eventually tracked Gold back to an Internet address at Koch’s house after a “friend” request was sent to the teen’s younger brother on Facebook in November.

Koch already was under investigation, according to another affidavit by Liberti requesting a search warrant for Koch’s house in connection with an investigation into messages sent to “Billy Elliot” cast members. Koch was told to stop trying to “contact and extort children via the Internet.”

A member of the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force came across child pornography while conducting an online investigation in July 2010.

Police linked the Internet address for the child pornography to Koch’s home, and Lorain County Sheriff’s deputies executed a search warrant there in December 2010. That investigation is ongoing, Liberti wrote.

Koch came to the attention of authorities again in June 2011 after a then-13-year-old actor touring with the play began receiving text messages demanding a nude photo.

“It’s as clear as day,” the affidavit quoted one of the texts as reading. “Send me a nude or else I will make your life a living hell.”

The texts were traced back to Koch’s iPhone, and he was interviewed on Aug. 17, 2011. During that conversation he told the FBI that he had sent the text messages and knew how old the 13-year-old was when he did it, although he didn’t plan to follow through on his threats.

The agents warned Koch, who denied he had sent messages to any of the show’s other actors, not to have any further contact with “Billy Elliot” cast members.

But investigators later learned that he had hacked another “Billy Elliot” actor’s Facebook account in December 2010 and demanded the then-13-year-old boy send him a photo of his genitalia if he wanted control of the account back.

An email sent to the actor about the hacking said, “If you want it back, send me a picture of you naked standing in front of a mirror.”

The actor’s Skype account and Yahoo email account were hacked in February 2012, Liberti wrote. The actor also received text messages in August. Those messages were traced back to Koch.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.