Child porn ‘sextortionist’ pleads guilty

John Christensen
The Chronicle Express
Yates County Courthouse

PENN YAN – The online "sextortionist" arrested earlier this year, Jameel Collins, 26, of Buffalo, appeared in Yates County Criminal Court Tuesday, Aug. 24 to accept a plea bargain for two counts of promoting a sexual performance by a child (class D felony). In exchange for his guilty plea, Judge Jason Cook promised Collins an indeterminate sentence of 1 1/3 to 4 years in prison.

The New York State Police and FBI investigated the online "sextortion" scam targeting students in at least two Yates County school systems in December 2018 resulted in the arrest of Collins May 1 on a Superior Court warrant for three counts of Promoting a Sexual Performance by a Child (class D violent felonies) and three counts of Endangering the Welfare of a Child. 

In his court allocution, Collins admitted he used the SnapChat social media platform to coerce two Yates County girls to send him images and videos that included sexual conduct. According to the Penn Yan Central School District, the online predator created numerous fake social media accounts, befriended students online, and used those relationships to coax the kids into sharing personal information and private photos. Then he used the information to blackmail the students into sharing additional explicit photographs and details under threat that the pictures and details already shared would be made public.

The investigation was initiated by Penn Yan School Resource Officer Jeff Stewart of the Penn Yan Police Department, and completed by the State Police and the FBI Child Exploitation Task Force, in conjunction with the Yates County District Attorney’s Office. 

District Attorney Todd Casella said he made the two-count offer because one of the four victims was found to be over the age of 17 and another did not wish to cooperate with the investigation. Casella added that he believes Collins used the girls’ photos for profit rather than his own gratification.