Updated: 5:40 p.m. Friday, May 27, 2011 | Posted: 11:46 p.m. Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Man Accused Of Extorting Nude Pics From Teens Released From Jail
A Brentwood man accused of blackmailing several teenage girls into sending him pornographic photos of themselves, was released from jail on bond on Friday.
Ross police said on Thursday that there may be as many as seven victims in the case.
Robert Russell Freed, 43, led a 15-year-old Ross Township girl to believe he was a friend and got her to send a topless photo of herself to him, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court.
The girl later learned the person sending her the messages was not her friend.
Agents said Reed demanded the girl "take and send more sexually explicit pornographic pictures of herself" and that if she didn't, he would distribute the photo he already had to her family, friends, classmates and teachers.
The girl complied with Freed's demands six times, according to agents.
Ross Township police said the investigation started after the girl and her mother came forward.
Several other teens said they were also coerced into sending photos to Freed, and investigators believe there may be more victims.
Freed was arrested as he was driving to work in New Stanton, where he is an engineer for the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
“Everyone in the law enforcement community takes it exceptionally seriously when we have juvenile victims, and we're all personally happy to see cases like this come to a good resolution,” said Brian Kohlhepp of the Ross Township Police Department.
Channel 11's Rick Earle talked to one of the teenage victims and her mother. The teen said a friend had given her Freed's cell phone number because she thought it was a new classmate's phone number.
"She told me there was a new kid at our school and that he was really cute and to text him," the girl said.
The teen said she began texting him and eventually sent him some racy photos of herself.
"He would ask me for them and said she [her friend] had sent them. He said she had sent him naked pictures so why don't you send me some," the girl said.
After some time, the teen said Freed then began sending her harassing text messages and then threatened to send the nude photos to her friends and family if she didn't send more pictures.
That's when she realized the person on the other end was not who she thought it was.
"It was really scary because there was no way to stop him. He could have ruined everything," she said.
The teen said she's relieved now that Freed has been caught.
"I'm not afraid as much as I was before he was caught. It was constant worrying about when he was going to text me again and when was he going to threaten me," the victim said.
"I was unaware how freely teens get pictures out and now we know and hopefully she's learned her lesson and she won't do it again," the girl's mother said.
The case is under investigation by the FBI and Ross Township Police. Investigators said anyone who thinks they may be a victim or may have any information should call Ross police at 412-931-9070.
Police said the last four digits of the phone number used is 6258. Investigators said they are interested in speaking with anyone Freed may have contacted since December 2009.