Sextortion survivor shares intimate story to warn others
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - It was July, 2020 when a teacher got a message many people have gotten too.
“I got some weird messages at like, saying it was Snapchat,” the teacher, who did not wish to be identified said. “Respond with your password to save your account.”
She did without thinking anything of it. But then she got another notification.
“Moments later I get a message saying, I have videos of you.”
The person sending the messages let her know he wasn’t kidding. He sent her a copy of a sexual video she’d made with her partner which was saved privately on the app.
“I’ve never felt soo violated,” she said. “It was never meant for anyone else to see.”
“He knew where she worked. He knew where she lived. He knew everything about her,” the teacher’s attorney, Sara Collins said. “He had a list of her friends. And that’s where the extortion part came into play.”
Collins showed WAVE Troubleshooters the barrage of messages that kept coming, threatening to send the video to the teacher’s loved ones, her friends, her principal and even the Board of Education.
“Send me more videos, send me more pictures,” the teacher recalled. “I was like ‘Please stop harassing me. Why are you doing this?’ I just couldn’t wrap my mind around why someone would want to do this.”
The suspect posted the video online and sent the video to a loved one.
She called LMPD and was given the number to the Sex Crimes Unit. But for months, and despite repeated messages, she said police didn’t respond. Her attorney claims LMPD did not ever assign a case number to the teacher’s complaints.
More time would go by with this teacher in for a few surprises.
“I saw the article. It happened to me,” she said. “The collage of pictures he made, the reaching out to family members and friends, screen-shotting, and get FaceBook family members and friends, threatening them. I was like, this happened to me, I think I’m a victim.”
That article was about LMPD Officer Bryan Wilson. The department was investigating him for posting a sexually explicit picture of a police recruit online.
That was in October, 2019, about nine months before the teacher got the first message.
Meanwhile, the Lexington Police Department had received a separate, but similar complaint. The victim in that case kept communicating with Wilson, the police records show, turning the tables on him. She stalled by telling Wilson a loved one had died. That extra time allowed for police to track down the suspect’s IP address.
That victim even got Wilson to send her selfies of himself and was invited to his lake house. Information that was crucial to Lexington Police.
Kentucky State Police then used facial recognition software on the selfies, identifying Wilson.
“I’ll post everything I got from her snapaccount which was 20 pics and two vids,” Wilson wrote on a website, according to Lexington Police records. “I’ll share her name and phone number….I just don’t want her doxed before I can squeeze a few more wins out of her. She’s ready to send me more but she’s dealing with a family funeral right now so I’m being generous.”
“When I realized in court at the hearing that it was a cop, it was shocking,” the teacher said. “Like, cops are supposed to protect people like me.”
Investigators also found that Wilson was extorting numerous women. But that’s not all. During that investigation they also found numerous videos for what would later be coined as, “Slushigate.”
Wilson was seen in recordings throwing slushies at unsuspecting, vulnerable people around Louisville from his unmarked police cruiser.
Wilson was named as the ringleader by the FBI who’d started their own sets of investigations.
“The word disgusting is all that comes to me,” the teacher said. “No normal human being with empathetic feelings would throw drinks at citizens they’re supposed to be protecting. No normal human being will prey on women, harass them, that they’re supposed to be protecting.”
“I told him in court, at my sentencing, like, I wanted to kill myself because of you,” she recalled. “You spiral down and I was spiraling so bad because of that man.”
The FBI identified 25 victims who Wilson and co-conspirators preyed on. Wilson had direct contact with eight of the women federal records show.
Wilson was convicted on federal Civil Rights Violations for Slushigate. He was also found guilty of cyber-stalking the women, a charge Collins says falls short of capturing what the crime actually was.
“People are kind of having difficulty wrapping their heads around what this is,” Collins said. “You hear the word cyber and it’s almost like a disconnect.”
What it really was, Collins says, is “Sextortion,” a relatively new term in a new cyber world.
“It is often referred to as remote rape or remote sexual assault,” Collins explained.
Right now, it’s just a patchwork of laws which miss the impact of Sextortion, which, thanks to the internet, never really goes away.
“It’s deeply traumatic,” Collins said. “This isn’t like having your debit card hacked. This is a personal, private invasion.”
“I don’t know if he made other women feel this way,” the teacher said. “Did they want to kill themselves too? I mean, I teach tons of kids, I have parents, I’m a sister, I’m am aunt. Like, what would have happened if they didn’t catch him? If he kept harassing me? Would I have taken my own life? I don’t know, but I was close already.”
Through the tears she is taking her pain to Frankfort hoping to get the law to recognize Sextortion as a sex crime.
The teacher and Collins would like to see police be better trained to investigate such cases, which they said LMPD should have taken seriously. The women would also like the law to require cyber-monitoring for those convicted and offer victim services to those impacted.
“This isn’t going away, this is social media,” the teacher said. “This is going to keep happening, we need laws. We need rules in place, we need a system that works because this is never going to stop.”
Wilson was sentenced to two and half years for both crimes.
Copyright 2022 WAVE. All rights reserved.