Los Angeles Man Who Kidnapped and Raped 15-Year-Old Girl Sentenced to Federal Prison

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Westlake Man Sentenced to 24 Years in Prison for Kidnapping, Rape, Child Pornography

Westlake Man Sentenced to 24 Years in Prison for Kidnapping, Rape, Child Pornography

Sep 16, 2022

A man from the Los Angeles neighborhood of Westlake received a federal prison sentence Thursday after being charged with multiple sex crimes involving a minor. Travis Smith, 28, was sentenced to 292 months – 24 years and four months – for producing child pornography of him raping a then-15-year-old girl he had kidnapped from her home in Oregon, federal officials said.

Los Angeles Man Who Kidnapped and Raped 15-Year-Old Girl Sentenced to Federal Prison

Smith pleaded guilty on January 20 to one count of production of child pornography. The sex offender was sentenced by United States District Judge John A. Kronstadt, who remarked at Thursday’s hearing that Smith’s “inexcusable” conduct was “beyond comprehension.” The judge also noted that the sexual predator’s actions had a “profound effect” on the victim.

According to a press release from the United States District Attorney’s Office, in early 2020, Smith was a 26-year-old married father of two living with his estranged wife. That year, he began impersonating a 16-year-old boy “to chat online with the victim about a popular online game,” the District Attorney’s Office said.

Their messages soon turned sexual and abusive, however, with Smith demanding the victim perform painful sex acts on herself as punishment for behavior such as speaking with boys or not answering him quickly enough,” according to the D.A.’s Office for the Central District of California.

The following sequence of events related to Smith’s arrest and prosecution were confirmed by federal officials:

  • The victim tried to end her communication with the then-26-year-old.
  • After enticing her to produce sexually explicit images, Smith subsequently threatened to release the material to the teenager’s family and friends.
  • In July 2020, several months after initially making contact, Smith drove from California to the victim’s home in Oregon.
  • Smith threatened to shoot the victim and her family, eventually kidnapping the teenage girl whom he had met online just months earlier.

After the abduction, Smith attempted to conceal the victim’s whereabouts by forcing her to destroy her cellphone. On the drive from California to Oregon (and multiple times thereafter), Smith repeatedly raped the young girl, according to federal officials.

After arriving back in Los Angeles, the sexual predator hid the victim in his Westlake apartment for several days. While the victim was trapped inside the apartment, Smith filmed himself raping her numerous times.

After days of captivity, the FBI eventually located and rescued the victim. A widespread investigation into the matter was immediately launched, and Smith was taken into custody.

Assistant United States Attorney Catharine A. Richmond of the Violent and Organized Crime Section reportedly prosecuted the case against Travis Smith.

Sexual Predators Using Sextortion Scams to Target Teens Online

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) San Francisco Field Office recently released a report warning of a significant increase in online “sextortion scams” targeting teenagers.

The FBI notes that sextortion begins when an adult contacts a minor over any online platform used to meet and communicate (such as a game, app, or social media account). Predators may initiate contact in a sextortion scam under the guise of a friendship. Cases of scammers posing as employees for modeling agencies and requesting photos and/or videos have been frequently reported, according to the FBI.

An online sexual predator typically follows the following pattern in a sextortion scam:

  • Revealing that they have made the compromising sexual recordings of the victim
  • Attempting to extort the victim for money to prevent the recordings from being posted online

“In a scheme that has recently become more prevalent, the predator (posing as a young girl) uses deception and manipulation to convince a young male, usually 14 to 17 years old, to engage in explicit activity over video, which is then secretly recorded by the predator,” the FBI said.

“Many of the subjects are overseas and will often demand money in increasing amounts if any is sent during the initial request.”

Parents and caregivers were specifically cautioned by the FBI regarding the ongoing increase in sextortion scams involving the exploitation of young children.

“The FBI is receiving an increasing number of reports of adults posing as young girls coercing young boys through social media to produce sexual images and videos and then extorting money from them,” a department press release said.

As we discussed in an August blog, the FBI has warned of “huge increases” in sextortion scams specifically targeting boys aged 14 to 17.

Data on sextortion scams compiled by the Cyberbullying Research Center confirmed the following statistics:

  • 5% of teens have been the target of sextortion recently.
  • Only one-third notified their parents of the sextortion incidents.
  • Males were significantly more likely to have experienced sextortion (both as a victim and as an offender)
  • Adolescents who identified as non-heterosexual were more than twice as likely to be the victim of sextortion.

Moreover, the FBI’s San Francisco Field Office confirmed receiving dozens of complaints involving boys who reported being victims of sextortion within the last year. The reports indicated that a majority of those incidents involved:

  • Soliciting victims for money
  • Sextorted for additional images

“These crimes have had devastating effects on children and their families,” FBI San Francisco Acting Special Agent in Charge, Sean Ragan, said. “We need to disrupt these criminals by making potential victims and their parents aware of the sextortion threat. Parents and guardians should talk to their children about the dangers of online communication, and the importance of speaking up if anyone makes them feel uncomfortable or threatened.”

How Can Parents Protect Children from Online Sextortion Scams?

The following tips have been provided by the FBI to help parents and caregivers protect children online:

  • Be selective about what you share online, especially your personal information and passwords. If your social media accounts are open to everyone, a predator may be able to figure out a lot of information about you or your children.
  • Be wary of anyone you encounter for the first time online. Block or ignore messages from strangers.
  • Be aware that people can pretend to be anything or anyone online. Videos and photos are not proof that a person is who they claim to be.
  • Be suspicious if you meet someone on a game or app and they ask you to start talking to them on a different platform.
  • Encourage your children to report suspicious behavior to a trusted adult.

According to the FBI, in 2021, the IC3 (Internet Complaint Referral Form) received over 18,000 sextortion-related complaints resulting in losses estimated at over $13.6 million.

Contact a Sexual Abuse Lawyer Today to File a Claim for Damages

Over the course of their lifetime, approximately 28% of American youth between the ages of 14 and 17 are sexually victimized, according to the National Center for Victims of Crime. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that 1-in-4 girls and 1-in-13 boys experience sexual violence and abuse in the United States.

Failing to hold these odious sexual perpetrators accountable allows this cycle of rampant abuse impacting America’s children and teens to continue.

One way to hold sexual predators accountable for their actions is by filing a civil claim for damages. If you are a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and would like to pursue justice against your perpetrator, the team of proven, experienced, and skilled sex crimes attorneys at Dordulian Law Group (DLG) is here to answer any questions you may have about filing a claim. We will fight aggressively for justice on your behalf, seeking recovery of a maximum financial damages award for the harm endured as a result of a predator’s actions.

DLG’s sexual abuse lawyers are available 24/7 to discuss your case, your legal rights, and all available legal options. Some of the common question we hear from survivors who want justice include:

  • How much is my case worth?
  • How long will it take to receive a cash settlement?
  • Can I remain anonymous throughout the claims process?
  • Can I file a claim if my abuse occurred long ago?

We’ll answer all of your questions and provide an estimate for how much your case is worth, how long the litigation process may take, and how soon you can expect to receive your settlement check during your free consultation meeting.

How Long Do I Have to File a California Child Sexual Abuse Claim?

All California survivors of childhood sexual abuse are now eligible to file civil claims for financial compensation. Child sex crime claims are currently not bound by any statute of limitations under California AB 218. As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, you have — for a limited time – an opportunity to file a lawsuit seeking financial compensation, regardless of how long ago the crime occurred.

The deadline for this unprecedented opportunity at justice closes, however, on December 31, 2022. As a result, DLG’s California sexual abuse lawyers strongly encourage all survivors to file their claims immediately. Failing to file a claim by the deadline could mean that your case is no longer eligible for any sort of legal recourse (including financial compensation), and that your perpetrator is able to evade justice under the law.

If you experienced a sexual assault incident, don’t wait to file a claim. Contact our expert attorneys online or by phone for a free consultation today.

Contact DLG’s trusted sexual abuse lawyers for a free and confidential consultation today at 818-322-4056. We’re available 24/7 to provide information about how a childhood sex abuse lawsuit under AB 218 can help you get the justice you deserve – even for crimes committed decades ago.

Dordulian Law Group’s No Win/No Fee Guarantee means that our clients are never responsible for any upfront fees or out-of-pocket expenses. You pay nothing for our expert legal representation until after we’ve secured a maximum cash settlement for your child sexual abuse claim. If we don’t win, you pay nothing – and since you have nothing to lose by choosing DLG, contact us today so we can start fighting for the justice you deserve. No matter how long ago your child sexual abuse occurred, we’re here as your dedicated legal advocate, working tirelessly to recover a maximum cash settlement for the harm you’ve endured.

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