A 19-year-old Utah man suspected of extorting more than 50 underage girls to send him nude pictures is facing multiple charges — now that he’s been sent home from an LDS mission.
Gabe Ryan Gilbert, of South Jordan, was booked into the Salt Lake County jail and later released. He’s been charged in 3rd District Court with five counts of aggravated sexual extortion of a child, first-degree felonies; and four counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, second-degree felonies.
According to court documents, the Utah Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force began investigating Gilbert in August 2018 when a 15-year-old girl reported that another Snapchat user “threatened to Photoshop images of her face onto nude photos unless she sent real nude pictures of herself.” When she refused, he told her she had one minute to comply or he would “expose” her.
Special Agent Sarah Lundquist with the Utah Attorney General’s Office wrote, “When I examined the results of the search warrant from Snapchat it was obvious the user had been engaging in very similar behavior with other underage girls. I identified well over 50 potential victims of this type of sexual extortion.”
Gilbert made similar threats to a 15-year-old girl in December 2017; to a girl from 14 to 16 in May 2018; to a 14-year-old girl in June 2018; to a 17-year-old girl in June 2018; and a 15-year-old girl in July 2018. In several cases, he threatened to “send rapists and human traffickers” to the girls’ homes.
According to the charging document, “Chat logs showed the following messages … 'I hope your house has good security … I’m sending out your location and username … to as many creeps on the web as I can find.'”
In March, agents went to Gilbert’s home and were told by his parents that he had left on a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Mexico the previous October. According to Lundquist, she was contacted by an attorney for the church on April 3; he told her that Gilbert’s mother had contacted her son’s mission president, who interviewed him. “What Gabe said was not disclosed, but he was immediately sent home,” she wrote.
On April 4, Lundquist spoke by phone with Gilbert’s mother, and she “refused” to “speak with me or tell me where to find Gabe. I explained she could not conceal Gabe’s location from me, but she still refused to answer.” Lundquist then went to Gilbert’s home; his mother once again refused to speak with the agent or reveal his whereabouts, although, according to the agent, “I knew he was home.”
“I told her Gabe was an adult and was free to decline to speak with me, but she cannot hide him,” Lundquist wrote.