ILLINOIS – A southern Illinois man faces felony charges after federal authorities say he threatened a California teenager and her family if she didn’t meet him for sex and provide her with sexually explicit photos of herself
Dakota Griffin, 33, of Benton, faces a sex crime charge after federal officials determined he made the threats against a teenage girl he met on a dating app while pretending to be someone else, authorities said in a federal criminal complaint.
Griffin is charged with attempted production of child pornography after authorities say he exchanged phone, text and video messages with a 16-year-old girl over a month in 2021. In a 29-page criminal complaint, the government Federal officials said Griffin maintained contact with the girl in which he identified himself not only as himself, but as other people using false names numerous times.
Griffin was charged as part of a federal investigation into eight California men accused of child sexual exploitation.
Authorities said that in exchanges with the teenager, Griffin repeatedly threatened the girl and her family unless she created nude photos of herself and traveled to meet Griffin for the purpose of having sex. Federal authorities said the girl created the images, texted Griffin, and had planned to meet him for sex before her family prevented her from doing so, according to the criminal complaint
In interviews, Griffin told FBI officials he told the girl he would hang her from a tree, kill her, shoot her or set her on fire if she didn’t do what he asked, according to the criminal complaint.
The criminal complaint also said Griffin contacted the girl as Jesus “Jose” Santana on a dating app in March 2021. Three days later, according to the complaint, Griffin contacted the girl and told her that he was a hospital worker and that Santana was unconscious in a hospital after being beaten and raped. He told the girl that he got her number from Santana’s phone.
He then contacted the girl and identified himself as Dakota Griffin, saying he had found Santana on the floor of a gas station bathroom after Santana had been poisoned, officials said. The complaint said the girl believed Santana was being held captive by Griffin and possibly others.
A short time later, Griffin contacted the girl claiming to be the hospital worker and told her that he would kill Santana and come after her if she did not send him 100 explicit photos of herself, 50 of which had of being nude photographs.
In April 2021, Griffin, according to the criminal complaint, contacted the girl as himself and said he would release Santana if she agreed to become his girlfriend and “move in with me and do the that he told you to do,” the criminal complaint states. , adding “for the rest of your life and we’ll get married and have a family.”
After further threatening the girl, Griffin contacted her again and said that Santana was killed in Griffin’s house, which she later burned to destroy the evidence. He then told the girl that she was the reason Santana had died and why Griffin had lost $56,000 because he had burned down her house, according to the complaint.
He then threatened to kill the girl’s family if she did not travel to Illinois to have sex with Griffin, and said he would hang her family members unless she agreed to do as he asked. The girl later told federal authorities that she believed Griffin was part of the Ku Klux Klan after he told her that he and others would kill her family in front of her if she did not follow his instructions.
In the fall of 2021, federal agents obtained a search warrant for Griffin’s home in Benton, in which evidence was collected, leading to the charges.
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