BRIGHAM CITY, Utah (KUTV) — A father in Brigham City has been accused of pretending to be his son on Instagram to try and solicit photos from teenagers.
According to the probable cause statement, 39-year-old Brandon, who we are only identifying by his first name to protect the privacy of his son, is facing four charges of sexual exploitation of a minor and a charge of online impersonation.
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The probable cause statement said police were contacted by the son’s mother, who said his father had used the son’s Instagram to "request nude photos" from juvenile females who were in his friend list.
Lonii Bott, a grandmother in Brigham City said the report was very disturbing after hearing about the allegations.
It’s not the sort of thing Bott says she had to worry about when her own children were young, but she thinks her own children keep a close eye on her grandkids IPad activity.
“They have access to certain things.” Bott said. “But I think they watch them pretty close as far as the parental settings and stuff like that.”
Brigham City Police Lt. James Crapse said some, if not all, of the victims were 15. The probable cause statement said none of the teens sent photos, so “the sexual exploitation of minors was not completed.”
The statement said police reviewed the Instagram account and saw messages sent to five girls and one boy. It said four of the girls and the boy received requests for “sexy pictures.” After serving a search warrant to Instagram, it said police were also able to get a photo of Brandon in his bedroom which had been sent to one of the girls.
Jaimie Dunn, director of operations for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Salt Lake, said there's important steps to keeping your children safe.
“It’s important to check your safety controls. make sure that you have those in place. It’s important to check web history,” Dunn said.
Dunn said at the Boys and Girls Club, all of their children go through internet safety training starting at first grade, and some of their advice is trusting your gut and going to an adult.
“We tell our youth all the time what is your gut feeling?” Dunn said. “Like if you have a gut feeling that something is wrong or if someone is asking you or showing you something that you don’t feel is right speak up. Say something to someone.”
Dunn said having certain settings on your teens and children devices is a good first step, but having conversations and letting them know they can come to you is key.
“Having someone in their life where they can ask those questions really is the number one way to protect your child," she said.
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The statement said the son was out of state on the date the messages were sent and that Brandon allegedly admitted to accessing his son’s account when he had previously confiscated his phone. It said Brandon claimed to not recall the the messages being sent, “but understood the evidence was that he did.”
It said Brandon “described being very angry with his son at that time and drinking alcohol heavily on a nightly basis.”
Brandon is now facing four felony charges of sexual exploitation of a minor and a charge of online impersonation.
The probable cause statement said the data police got from Instagram included “the IP address associated with the messages being sent.” Through another warrant to a broadband provider they were able to connect that address to Brandon’s home.
The statement states on the day the messages were sent, his son was in Wyoming.