November 26, 2014

Elyria
Flurries
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Man pleads guilty to Web sextortion

A Columbia Township man with cerebral palsy pleaded guilty Wednesday to federal charges that he tried to force more than a dozen children, including cast members of the touring version of “Billy Elliot: The Musical,” into giving him pornographic images of themselves.

William T. Koch is due back in court in February for sentencing on multiple charges of sexual exploitation of children and two counts of identity theft, as well as individual counts of extortion, unauthorized trafficking in sound recording and a child pornography charge.

In total there were 20 victims listed in the case, although numerous additional charges against Koch were dropped in exchange for his plea.

Koch was initially charged earlier this year following an investigation into allegations he posed as a 15-year-old girl on Facebook and convinced a 15-year-old Canadian boy to masturbate online and threatened to expose the images if the boy didn’t have sex with his 10-year-old brother.

Instead, the boy went to his mother and she contacted the authorities, who eventually traced the threats back to Koch.

It wasn’t the first time Koch had fallen under scrutiny from law enforcement. The Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force linked Koch to child pornography during an investigation that began in July 2010, according to an FBI affidavit.

Lorain County sheriff’s deputies raided his home in December 2010. He came to the attention of authorities again in June 2011 after a then-13-year-old actor touring with the musical received text messages demanding a nude photo.

During an interview with the FBI in August 2011, Koch admitted he knew how old the actor was when he demanded the picture but never intended to follow through on a threat to make the actor’s “life a living hell.”

Koch also was accused of hacking another cast member’s Facebook account in December 2010 and demanding the then-13-year-old boy send him a nude photo to regain control of the account. Koch also harassed the actor in the following months, including after promising to stop contacting those involved with “Billy Elliot.”

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