A man posing as a member of One Direction online to convince young girls to perform sexual acts has been arrested. The 45-year-old man from Waterbury, Conn., was found by U.S. marshals in Virginia and was charged with possession of child pornography, employing a minor in an obscene performance, among other charges, the Waterbury Republican-American reports.
John Eastman, who was arraigned in Connecticut Superior Court on Thursday, allegedly used the screen name Harry.Styles888 on Skype -- the name of a One Direction band member -- to lure girls online, the Associated Press reports. Eastman reportedly offered concert tickets to girls in exchange for them posing naked or performing sex acts.
Police say Eastman’s computer contained hundreds of pictures of videos of child pornography, some of which were taken while talking with underage girls online. The webcam Eastman used depicts children as young as 5-years old in pornographic images.
This isn’t Eastman’s first brush with the law. Since 2003, he has faced five convictions in Connecticut, including one felony charge of risk of injury to a child.
Recently, a younger sexual predator gained notoriety after being sentenced to 42 years for exploiting minors. Lucas Robinson, 24, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa was found guilty of victimizing 12 girls online. He used Skype, Facebook, phone and texts to coerce girls to send sexual photos of themselves – if they refused, he threatened to share the existing ones online to family and friends, the Eastern Iowa Gazette reports.
"This conduct was sick stuff," U.S. District Judge Linda Reade said in an AP article.
U.S. Attorney Sean Berry said the case highlights the dangers of social media and told parents to be wary of their children’s online habits this summer.
"There are hundreds and hundreds of Lucas Robinsons online right now looking for children to exploit. Parents have to be smarter in watching what their kids are doing, and kids have to be smarter."