Nov. 7, 2014. On Thursday, investigators with the Boone Police Department charged Watauga High School student Jesse Colton Grimes, 17, Sugar Grove, with felonious first degree sexual exploitation of a minor, felonious second degree sexual exploitation of a minor, felonious third degree sexual exploitation of a minor and felonious extortion.
Grimes was taken before a Watauga County Magistrate where a $325,000 secured bond was set pending a Dec. 18 appearance in Watauga County District Court. Grimes was remanded to the custody of the Watauga County Detention Center.
These charges are the result of an investigation launched Oct. 14 after an allegation of extortion via sexting. The sending of sexually explicit messages or images by an electronic device, involving a minor was received by the Boone Police Department’s school resource officer. Working in conjunction with Watauga County Schools system officials, investigators discovered that Grimes was targeting children as young as 12.
During the investigation, forensic examination of digital devices revealed a predatory pattern of behavior by Grimes. The investigation now involves multiple law enforcement agencies in three states with numerous victims. While the actions in this case are extreme, the sending of any sexually explicit image involving a child is a crime. All cases involving the dissemination of obscene material will be investigated thoroughly.
The use of social media sites by our children presents the opportunity for them to be victimized. Previously, the threat required a predator to physically contact our children. Now however, a predator can enter our homes electronically and victimize our children. We urge parents to be vigilant in their monitoring of social media site usage. Talk with your children concerning the dangers of social media sites. Develop an atmosphere where children will feel confident in coming to you if someone tries to victimize them. Consider the use of software to monitor and filter electronic usage.
“Often times we see sexual predators initiate innocent contact with our children to build trust. They will learn our children’s weaknesses until they can compromise them and get them to send explicit images. Once that occurs, they will blackmail our children by threatening to send these images to friends, classmates, and family. They may even attempt to get a child to meet them in person.” said Criminal Investigations Commander Lt. Chris Hatton of the Boone Police Department.
This investigation is ongoing with the possibility of additional charges. There is a possibility of additional victims and we encourage parents to speak with their children about anyone who has contacted them or befriended them.
“As this case demonstrates, the predator isn’t always a stranger. It can be a classmate.” said Boone Police Chief Dana B. Crawford.
The Boone Police Department is thankful for the assistance of the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office, the Watauga County District Attorney’s Office, the Watauga County School System, and various out of state law enforcement agencies.
Here are several very good links from SafeKids.com to assist parents with internet safety for their children.
Visit http://www.townofboone.net/departments/police/index.html and pick “Crime Prevention Tips” from the navigation pane to visit these links directly.