Stratford man admits to extorting women over nude photos

  A Stratford man has admitted to soliciting nude photos from women and threatening to share the images with friends and family of the women unless they sent him more pictures.

Josh Alexander, 23, pleaded guilty Tuesday to 11 counts of extortion and one count of harassment.

He had also been charged with six counts of sexual assault and one count of possession of child pornography, although his lawyer says those charges were withdrawn by the Crown. According to the lawyer, Karl Toews, the child porn charge was laid because one of Alexander’s victims was under the age of 18.

“He used images that were provided to him voluntarily by the victims. The victims were all of a similar age to him,” Toews said following Tuesday’s proceedings.

“Really what happened here is a pornography addiction that ran completely out of control.”

Court heard that Alexander’s offences all took place between late 2015 and early 2017, and involved offering the women money in exchange for their photos, then refusing to pay them.

Toews told the court that Alexander had battled depression and would get drunk before committing his crimes. He said his client has undergone counselling for a sex-related addiction and has completed 24 hours of community service.

Alexander was sentenced to two years in prison, less one day, followed by probation. The sentence was a joint recommendation of Toews and the Crown.

In delivering the sentence, Justice Robert Rogerson called Alexander’s actions “repugnant.”

“You used (the internet) to control and dominate these women,” he said.

“You were only stopped because one courageous lady came forward.”

While cyber-extortion cases have been heard in Ontario courts before, Alexander’s case is considered unprecedented because of the number of known victims. A total of 17 women told police Alexander had blackmailed them into sending photos.