PROVO, Utah (ABC4) – The suspect of a sexual extortion case targeting a 16-year-old girl that took place in Lehi in May of 2021 has been given a jail sentence of under a year. 

Benjamin Shields, 21, was found guilty of Sexual Extortion with Intent to Coerce for Distribution and scented to 364 days in Utah County Jail as well as 48 months of proababtion and a $5,000 fine by Judge Robert Lunnen of the 4th District Court of Provo on July 6. 

Lehi Police were initially notified of a crime which occurred under the jurisdiction of the Division of Child and Family Services in mid-May of 2021. According to investigators, police were informed that a teenage girl had allegedly been solicited by a man through the social media platform Snapchat to send nude photos and videos of herself for as much as $46,000. The girl agreed and proceeded to send multiple explicit photos and videos of herself, though Shields never sent any money. 

Officers say that Shields started to threaten to expose the girl by posting the photos and videos online unless she agreed to send more. Records state that the girl told officers on multiple occasions that she refused to do some of what Shields allegedly asked of her, and that he never paid her any money. 

Through an investigation, police found that the phone Shields was using to access the Snapchat account he was communicating with the girl through was connected to Maryland. From there, Lehi Police turned the investigation over to Maryland Police. In September of 2021, Maryland Police notified Lehi Police of Shields’ attendance at Brigham Young University (BYU) in Provo.

Lehi Police were able to locate Shields on BYU’s campus and took him into questioning. After receiving a search warrant for Shields’ phone, officers found roughly 230 nude photographs of the girl.