A Bucks County courtroom was the scene of a long-awaited sentencing in February, as Ian Pisarchuk of Bensalem was sentenced to decades in prison. Pisarchuk, 27, was convicted on dozens of counts of sexual extortion, harassment, and child pornography-related charges, all stemming from criminal interactions he had on social media with 15 young women and girls around 2016.
One of those young women, Lindsay Piccone, would take her own life after being pressured to send sexually explicit photos by Pisarchuk, via the social media platform Snapchat.
Sextortion's Definition and History
Sextortion is legally defined as forcing someone to engage in sexually related conduct under the threat of extortion. Extortion itself is defined as "the wrongful use of actual or threatened force, intimidation or violence" to gain money, property, information, or another commodity of value to the perpetrator.
The state of Pennsylvania criminalized sextortion in 2019, initially making it a first-degree misdemeanor, or a third-degree felony in certain circumstances—if the victim was under 18, if the victim was intellectually disabled, if the perpetrator was in a position of trust or supervision in relation to the victim, or if the perpetrator had a prior history of sexual extortion or other crimes.
These penalties for the crime were strengthened in 2022 with the passage of a new law named "Lindsay's Law” to honor the Bucks County woman who was a fatal victim of sextortion.
“Lindsay's Law” elevates all instances of sexual extortion to third-degree felony status and allows enhanced penalties against defendants whose victim(s) either attempt suicide or die by suicide within 90 days of the sexortion behavior.
The law, passed last year, is named for Lindsay Piccone, a 21-year-old child caregiver who met Pisarchuk on Snapchat. It wasn't long before Pisarchuk, a Kutztown University student, began demanding sexually explicit photos of Piccone, then threatened her with violence.
Two months later, the young woman died by suicide after leaving behind a note saying, in part, that “Before someone else ruins my life, I am ruining mine.”
Tragically, Piccone was only one of Pisarchuk's victims. He victimized at least 14 other women and girls, one as young as 12. The Bensalem man was arrested in 2021 and charged with 67 counts of sexual extortion, terroristic threats, harassment, cyber harassment of a child, possession of child pornography, unlawful contact with a minor, and other crimes.
Although Pisarchuk was never charged directly with Piccone's death, he was nevertheless sentenced and now faces 20 to 51 years in prison.
Accused of Sextortion?
While the case against Pisarchuk was rock solid, given the copious proof of his crimes stored online, there have been sextortion cases that weren't nearly as clear cut.
In the event that criminal charges stem from a he-said, she-said situation, call Criminal Defense Attorney Joseph D. Lento. Experience and perseverance are hallmarks of the Criminal Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm. Call 888.535.3686 or click here to tell your side of the story.
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