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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) – It was July 2020 when a teacher received a message that many people also received.
“I got some strange messages saying it was Snapchat,” said the teacher, who did not want to be identified. “Reply with her password to save her account.”
He did it without thinking about anything. But then she got another notification.
“Moments later, I get a message saying: I have videos of you.”
The person who sent the messages let you know they weren’t kidding. He sent her a copy of a sex tape he had made with her partner that was kept private on the app.
“I have never felt so violated,” she said. “He was never meant for anyone else to see.”
“He knew where she worked. He knew where she lived. He knew everything about her,” said the teacher’s lawyer, Sara Collins. “He had a list of his 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 photos,” the teacher recalled. “I was like ‘Please stop harassing me. Why are you doing this?’ She just couldn’t understand why anyone would want to do this.”
The suspect posted the video online and sent it to a loved one.
She called LMPD and they gave her the number for the Sex Crimes Unit. But for months, and despite repeated messages, she said the police did not respond. Her lawyer says the LMPD never assigned a case number to the teacher’s complaints.
I would spend more time with this teacher for a few surprises.
“I saw the article. It happened to me,” she said. “The picture collage he made, communicating with family and friends, taking screenshots and getting FaceBook family and friends, threatening them. I thought, this happened to me, I think I’m a victim.”
That article was about LMPD officer Bryan Wilson. He was being investigated by the department for posting a sexually explicit image of a police recruit online.
That was in October 2019, about nine months before the teacher received the first message.
Meanwhile, the Lexington Police Department had received a separate but similar complaint. The victim in that case continued to communicate with Wilson, police records show, and turned him around. She stalled by telling Wilson that a loved one had died. That extra time allowed police to trace 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 the Lexington police.
The Kentucky State Police then used facial recognition software on the selfies, identifying Wilson.
“I will be posting everything I got from his snap account, which was 20 photos and two videos,” Wilson wrote on a website, according to Lexington police records. “I’ll share her name and her phone number…I just don’t want her to be doxed before I can squeeze a few more wins out of her. She’s ready to send me more, but right now she’s dealing with a family funeral, so I’m being generous.”
“When I realized in court at the hearing that he was a policeman, it was shocking,” said the teacher. “Cops are supposed to protect people like me.”
Investigators also discovered that Wilson was extorting numerous women. But that is not all. During that investigation, they also found numerous videos of what would later be coined “Slushigate.”
Wilson was seen on footage throwing slushies at vulnerable and unsuspecting people around Louisville from his unmarked police cruiser.
Wilson was named as the FBI ringleader who had started his own investigations.
“The word disgusting is all I can think of,” said the teacher. “No normal human being with feelings of empathy would throw drinks at the citizens they are supposed to protect. No normal human being will take advantage of women, harass them, who they are supposed to protect.”
“I told him in court, at my sentencing, that I wanted to kill myself because of you,” he recalled. “You spiral down and I was spiraling down so badly because of that man.”
The FBI identified 25 victims taken advantage of by Wilson and his co-conspirators. Wilson had direct contact with eight of the women shown in federal records.
Wilson was convicted of federal civil rights violations for Slushigate. He was also found guilty of cyberstalking women, a charge that Collins says fails to capture what the crime really was.
“People are having a hard time understanding what this is,” Collins said. “You hear the word cyber and it’s almost like a disconnect.”
What it really was, says Collins, is “sextortion,” a relatively new term in a new cyber world.
“It’s often referred to as rape at a distance or sexual assault at a distance,” Collins explained.
Right now, it’s just a patchwork of laws losing the impact of Sextortion, which, thanks to the internet, never goes away.
“It’s deeply traumatic,” Collins said. “This is not like your debit card being hacked. This is a personal and private invasion.”
“I don’t know if it made other women feel that way,” the teacher said. “Did they also want to commit suicide? I mean, I teach a lot of kids, I have parents, I’m a sister, I’m an aunt. Like, what would have happened if he hadn’t been caught? What if he kept harassing me? Would he have taken my life? I don’t know, but he was already close.
Through tears, she takes her grief to Frankfort in the hope that the law will recognize Sextortion as a sex crime.
The teacher and Collins wish the police were better able to investigate such cases, which they said the LMPD should have taken seriously. The women would also like to see the law require cyber-monitoring of convicts and offer victim services to those affected.
“This is not going to disappear, it’s social networks,” said the teacher. “This is going to continue happening, we need laws. We need rules in place, we need a system that works because this will never stop.”
Wilson was sentenced to two and a half years for both crimes.
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