Tuesday, June 20, 2017
High school photographer sentenced to 24 months in prison for internet stalking
Christian Trey Ashcraft, 42, of Pine Bluff, the owner of Ashven photography and a former high school photographer in the Pine Bluff, Arkansas area, was sentenced to 24 months’ imprisonment for internet stalking.
On January 5, 2016, a federal Grand Jury returned an indictment charging Ashcraft with one count of lying to a federal agent and one count of internet stalking. On February 22, 2017, Ashcraft pleaded guilty to internet stalking. Ashcraft’s conduct spanned from January 2005 to December 2014.
Today, United States District Judge Kristine G. Baker sentenced Ashcraft to 24 months’ imprisonment, three years of supervised release, and a $1,000 fine. In sentencing Ashcraft, Judge Baker told Ashcraft that only one word could describe his almost decade-long actions—“despicable.” The sentence of 24 months was the top end of the advisory federal sentencing guideline range for this crime.
“Ashcraft’s sentence shows that people who commit cowardly acts behind a computer screen will be identified and prosecuted,” Harris said. “I agree with the Court that Ashcraft’s conduct was despicable, and he is now being held accountable for using the internet to torment a young, innocent victim.”
At his change of plea hearing on February 22, 2017, Ashcraft admitted to using the e-mail account email@example.com to send sexually explicit photographs of an adult female he was pretending to be—referred to in the Indictment as J.D.—to several individuals over a significant period of time. Agents then discovered the identity of J.D. and subsequently interviewed her.
During the interview, J.D., who is now in her mid-twenties, disclosed that she met an individual who identified himself as “Chad Reynolds” on a website known as hotornot.com when she was 15-years-old. Between the times J.D. was 15- and 22-years-old, “Chad Reynolds” and J.D. engaged in an online relationship without J.D. ever seeing “Chad Reynolds” in person. J.D. admitted to sending “Chad Reynolds” sexually explicit photographs of herself while she was a minor.
J.D. explained to investigators that after she turned 18, “Chad Reynolds” asked her to take part in a photo shoot at a local hotel. Upon arrival at the hotel, “Chad Reynolds” was not there, but Ashcraft, posing as a photographer friend of “Chad Reynolds,” told J.D. that “Chad” wanted her to start the photo shoot without him. During the photo shoot, the photographer had J.D. take multiple sexually explicit photographs. J.D. identified a photograph of Christian Trey Ashcraft as the photographer.
Soon after the photo shoot, J.D. ended her online relationship with “Chad Reynolds.” After J.D. ended her online relationship, the sexually explicit photographs taken from the hotel room were sent to multiple acquaintances of J.D. from an individual purporting to be J.D. via the firstname.lastname@example.org account.
Ashcraft later admitted to being the user of email@example.com and sending the sexually explicit images of J.D., while pretending to be her. A search of Ashcraft’s computer revealed approximately 800 images of J.D., many of which were sexually explicit.
During the investigation, agents learned that Ashcraft communicated via firstname.lastname@example.org with multiple individuals while he posed as young teenage girls.
This investigation was conducted by the Arkansas State Police and HSI. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kristin Bryant.