A man is facing multiple criminal charges, including rape, in connection with a “sextortion” scheme involving two teenage girls he met on the social media app Kik, authorities said.
Josh Manuel Magana, 27, pleaded not guilty Thursday to two counts each of extortion, forcible rape of a child over 14 and possession of child pornography as well as other sex offenses, according to Sarah Ardalani, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office. He also was charged with one count of contact with a minor for sexual offense, she said.
Magana was arrested Tuesday at his home in an unincorporated area of Whittier following a nearly five-month investigation into the “sextortion” allegations, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
In October, a 16-year-old girl contacted detectives after she was forced to send nude photographs to a man she met on the social networking and smartphone app Kik, the Sheriff’s Department said in a statement.
Using the screen name “thegiftedmonster,” Magana repeatedly threatened that he would hurt the girl if she didn’t send him nude photographs of herself, authorities said.
“Detectives believe that Magana had learned enough about his victim through her various social media postings, to convince her that he knew her personal information, like where she lived and went to school,” the Sheriff’s Department said.
Magana convinced the girl that he had information about her friends, sheriff’s Lt. Kent Wegener said.
Authorities said Magana tried to mask his Internet address, but detectives found out where he lived and searched his home.
As detectives searched Magana’s cellphone, they found photographs of a second underage girl, whom he had extorted and sexually assaulted in January, the Sheriff’s Department said. They also found images and videos of child pornography showing him assault the girl, who was 17, authorities said.
Using the same screen name, authorities said, he harassed the teen until she finally sent him nude photographs.
Magana then threatened to send the photos to the girl’s family and his friends online if she didn’t have sex with him, the Sheriff’s Department said.
“Fearful that she would be exposed on the Internet, the 17-year-old victim met the 27-year-old Magana, at his residence, where he sexually assaulted her,” the Sheriff’s Department said.
Authorities said he continued to extort the girl for sex and she had told no one about the harassment until she was contacted by detectives from the Sheriff’s Department Human Trafficking Task Force.
“She hadn’t told a soul,” Wegener said.
Detectives think there could be more victims, so they are analyzing Magana’s cellphone for more information, he said.
Wegener urged parents to be vigilant of their children’s social media habits.
“Phones are computers now,” he said. “It’s important that those phones and those computers don’t go with them in the bedroom when the day’s over. It takes effort, but parents need to be diligent.”
Anyone who was contacted by Magana online is urged to call the Los Angeles Regional Human Trafficking Task Force at (323) 526-5156