BYU student arrested for multiple counts of sexual exploitation of a minor

Local News

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LEHI, Utah (ABC4) – A student at Brigham Young University, originally from Maryland, has been arrested on multiple counts of sexual exploitation of a minor. This comes following an investigation stretching back to May.

An arresting affidavit says 20-year-old Benjamin Shields was taken into custody in late September on 20 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor and one count of sexual extortion-coerce to distribute an intimate image.

Investigators say Lehi Police were notified of a crime occurring under the jurisdiction of the Division of Child and Family Services in mid-May. Initially, police were informed a 16-year-old girl had been solicited by a man on Snapchat to send nude photographs and videos for a large amount of money – at one point offering $46,000. The girl agreed, sending multiple photos and videos of herself in a nude or semi-nude state. The man, later identified as Shields, never sent any money.

Shields allegedly began threatening to expose the girl by posting the photos and videos online unless she sent more. The girl told investigators on multiple occasions that she had refused to do some of the things Shields allegedly asked for and that he never paid her for what she did send.

After investigating the Snapchat account Shields was allegedly using and determining the phone used was connected to Maryland, Lehi Police turned the investigation over to Maryland police. In September, Maryland police informed Lehi investigators the suspect – Shields – was attending BYU in Provo.

Lehi Police found Shields on BYU’s campus and took him in for questioning. When they executed a search warrant on his phone, police say they found roughly 230 nude photographs of the teenager.

Additional details have not yet been released.

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