INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A 40-year-old Indiana man who pleaded
guilty to charges that he coerced more than a dozen teenagers into
performing sex acts on online should be sentenced Wednesday to an
effective life term in prison, prosecutors said.
Richard Finkbiner admitted that he tricked the young people into stripping
or performing sexual acts for him via webcam, then he used recordings of
those sessions to coerce them into making yet more explicit videos.
Finkbiner, of Brazil, Ind., agreed in January to plead guilty to child
exploitation, extortion and possession of child pornography in exchange
for a recommended sentence of 30 to 50 years in prison.
Prosecutors asked the court to impose "an effective life sentence" of 50
years, ensuring that the former Sunday school teacher spends the rest of
his life in federal prison.
"The sheer number of individuals Finkbiner exploited and extorted
justifies a sentence Finkbiner is almost certain not to outlive,"
prosecutors said in documents filed June 18 in U.S. District Court in
Terre Haute, Ind.
Finkbiner's defense attorney, Monica Foster, wasn't immediately available
for comment Wednesday.
Finkbiner was charged in April 2012 with operating a "sextortion" scheme
that targeted hundreds of minors across the country, some as young as 12
years old. Investigators who analyzed electronic media seized from him
found more than 22,000 video files captured from webcam feeds, about half
of which depict sexual conduct, court documents say.
According to prosecutors, Finkbiner met most or all of his victims on a
video chat website, omegle.com, which offers users random, anonymous
one-on-one chats with strangers. The site says it is not for use by
children under 13 or teens younger than 18 who don't have the permission
of a parent or guardian.
Prosecutors say the teens thought they were looking at live images of
people who were acting sexually and encouraging the teens to do the same,
but the images were actually recordings Finkbiner was showing them. He
would later contact the teens again and threaten to upload their explicit
images to porn websites unless they made more videos for his private use,
The alleged victims ranged in age from 12 to 16 years and lived in nine
states — Indiana, West Virginia, Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, New York,
Michigan, Illinois and Colorado.
In one case cited in court records, a 12-year-old Michigan boy pleaded
with Finkbiner not to upload explicit videos of him after he refused to do
any more, but Finkbiner posted them on the Internet anyway.
Prosecutors say the case is an example of "sextortion," a crime that
authorities are seeing with greater frequency in which Internet predators
catch victims in embarrassing situations online and threaten to expose
them unless they create sexually explicit photos or videos.