PEORIA, Ill. (WEEK) — A Texas man will serve 35 years in prison after he was sentenced for soliciting nude photos from young girls in central Illinois and in other parts of the country, and then blackmailing them.
U.S. District Judge Joe Billy McDade sentenced Mark P. Barnwell, 36, of Whitehouse, Texas, for using fake Facebook profiles to obtain nude photos of minor-aged girls while already registered as a sex offender. Prosecutors said Barnwell admitted he used fake female Facebook profiles to offer young girls a modeling opportunity that would pay thousands of dollars per photo shoot.
The minors were directed to take sexually suggestive or explicit photos at various stages of undressing at Barnwell’s direction, prosecutors said. The victims were told they would be paid by cash, check, or direct deposit.
After getting the photos, Barnwell used the images to blackmail the young women into sending him more images, under threat of posting the photos he had online to embarrass them or ruin their reputations, prosecutors said. Barnwell used this method to get nude photos from 43 minors in eight states, including 28 in Central Illinois.
Law enforcement officials also found several videos on Barnwell’s electronic devices where he shot video up women’s skirts in public or hid cameras in public women’s bathrooms.
Barnwell will remain on supervised release for the rest of his life after serving the 35-year sentence.
The charges are the result of a joint investigation by the U.S. Secret Service, the Peoria Police Department, and the Peoria County Sheriff’s Office. Assistance was provided by the United States Attorneys’ offices for the Central District of California, Southern District of Mississippi, District of Nevada, Eastern District of Texas, Northern District of Texas, Western District of Washington, Northern District of Iowa, and Southern District of West Virginia. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ronald Hanna and Katherine Legge of the Central District of Illinois, Peoria Division, and Trial Attorney William Grady of the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS).