As the number of sexual crimes against children on online platforms rises rapidly, a 34-year-old from Pennsylvania found himself in the unforgiving grasp of the law after being arrested and charged with 29 counts of child pornography charges after being caught preying on children using online games.
Geoffrey Hines, from Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, has been charged with several counts of enticing minors in order to engage in sexually explicit conduct, possession of child pornography, and manufacturing and attempting to manufacture child pornography. Hines' victims were young boys who were 8-13 years old.
"The defendant's alleged conduct in this case is nightmare scenario for parents of children who like to play games online. Here, Hines is charged not only with sexually exploiting his many victims online, but also surreptitiously recording these children, forever preserving their exploitation and trauma," said Jennifer Arbittier Williams, First Assistant US Attorney, in a statement.
Deceiving and Exploiting Children
The court documents stated that at least for a period of five years, Hines targeted young boys on online games such as Minecraft and Fortnite through X-box and PlayStation systems. He would communicate with them for extended periods of time (for days at a time), and finally, convince them to stream sexually explicit images of themselves through live streaming.
Hines is also said to have concealed his real identity. This was in order to make sure that the children remained unsuspecting of the fact that they were engaged in communication with an adult in his thirties, and was recording them secretly as they exposed themselves.
Gifts to Make Young Boys Comply
In the event of a child expresses reluctance to undress, Hines would allegedly make donations to the boys' accounts. He supposedly also sent codes to the children that they could use to redeem gift cards if they submitted to his demands. Several dozen young boys between the ages of 8 to 13 years of age were preyed upon by Hines.
At the time of his arrest, over 47,000 videos and images of child pornography were found in Hines' possession. He made his initial court appearance on 11 December 2020. If convicted, he faces a maximum possible sentence of life in prison.
"The internet connects our homes and families to the world — and vice versa. In doing so, unfortunately, it offers a potential way in for those despicable individuals looking to prey on children, expressed Michael J. Driscoll, Special Agent in Charge, FBI, Philadelphia Division. He also urged parents to educate their children about cybersecurity. and the potential threat of online predators.