- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 5, 2014

FARGO, N.D. (AP) - A man accused of threatening girls into engaging in sexually explicit conduct pleaded guilty Wednesday to eight counts in the first federal so-called “sextortion” case tried in North Dakota.

Dustin Coleman, 22, of Wahpeton, is charged with sexual exploitation of minors, possessing child pornography and extortion. A joint sentencing recommendation between prosecutors and Coleman’s federal public defender calls for him to serve 30 years in prison.

Authorities said Coleman used intimidation or fear to gain sexual favors and his coerce victims, believed to be between the ages of 13 and 14, into making and sending him explicit images. Coleman produced many of the images himself, investigators said.

Neil Fulton, head of the public defender’s office for the Dakotas, was out of the office Wednesday and not available for comment. U.S. Attorney Timothy Purdon declined to comment.

Coleman told one victim that he would rape her younger sister if she didn’t send him nude photographs of herself, according to court documents. He later told the girl, who authorities believe was 13, that he would send the images to her brother and others if she didn’t send more, documents show.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Klemetsrud Puhl said Wednesday that one victim was pressured by Coleman into having sexual activity with a dog.

Coleman told U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson he suffers from numerous mental health disorders and said he has had hallucinations. Coleman detailed a list of at least five medications he has been taking for the last six months.

“That’s all I can remember off the top of my head, your honor,” Coleman said Wednesday.

Authorities were alerted to the case after a woman who was moving out of Coleman’s residence inadvertently packed his laptop computer, two hard drives and an iPod Touch. Once Coleman realized the devices were missing, he called the woman and told her the belongings were his “life.”

The woman looked on the external hard drive and found child pornography, including images of a girl the woman knew. The woman told the girl about the images and the girl contacted police, according to court documents.

Sentencing is scheduled Jan. 26.

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