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FBI contractor threatened suicide if teens didn’t send him explicit images, feds say

FBI agent. (FBI/Released)

A report from a concerned father about a man inappropriately messaging his 13-year-old son led the FBI to investigate one of its own — a contractor for the bureau, according to federal prosecutors and court documents.

The investigation revealed Brett Janes, 26, of Arlington, Virginia, groomed a dozen boys, including teens and a 12-year-old, who he messaged over Snapchat and Discord, the Department of Justice announced in an Aug. 23 news release.

He repeatedly threatened suicide if the minors stopped responding to his messages, according to prosecutors, who said Janes told the victims he was a U.S. intelligence agency employee. He also flashed the victims a badge that allowed him access to federal buildings, an affidavit in support of an arrest warrant says.

While messaging the 13-year-old, who he met through the video game Valorant, he “enticed” him “to strip and masturbate over a live video Discord call by threatening to kill himself and by paying him money over CashApp,” prosecutors said.

On Aug. 23, a federal grand jury charged Janes with two counts of sexual exploitation of children and production of child sex abuse material, one count of attempted coercion and one count of receipt of child pornography, according to the Department of Justice.

If convicted on the counts, Janes will face a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison with a maximum up to life, prosecutors said.

McClatchy News contacted a federal public defender representing Janes for comment on Aug. 24 and didn’t receive an immediate response.

The FBI declined a request for comment from McClatchy News on Aug. 24.

The affidavit says as of late May, Janes “had recently taken a contract position within a headquarters unit in the FBI.”

The investigation

On Feb. 20, police in Galloway Township, New Jersey, responded to a father’s report regarding Janes communicating with his child, how he paid him $500 via Cash App and asked him to play “strip games” over video chat, according to the affidavit.

Officers were informed Janes told the 13-year-old he was a federal intelligence agency employee and lived in Virginia, the affidavit says.

The affidavit includes a series of Discord messages between Janes and the teen — in which Janes uses “tactics consistent with ‘grooming’” — exchanged between Jan. 1 and Feb. 20, according to the affidavit.

Grooming can involve an abuser manipulating a minor to gain access to them, coercing them to agree to abuse, establishing trust with them, discussing sexual topics and more, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, a U.S. non-profit and anti-sexual assault organization.

The day police responded to the father’s report, Janes made a suicide threat, the affidavit shows.

In a series of messages sent to the father’s son on Feb. 20, Janes expressed how he was upset that the teen blocked him on Snapchat, according to the affidavit.

“Im just going to kill myself cause no one likes me,” Janes wrote in one message before attempting to call the teen, the affidavit says.

From Feb. 20 until April 20, Janes contacted “nearly a dozen” minor boys and, in some messages, “enticed the minors to produce and send child pornography to him as well as engage in live video calls to see them naked,” according to the affidavit.

In addition, Janes tried meeting with one minor and “purchased hundreds of videos and images of child sexual abuse material from Telegram,” prosecutors said.

Police in Arlington County are also investigating Janes.

Anyone who may have information about someone who Janes’ potentially victimized is urged to call the FBI at 202-278-2000 to speak with its Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force.


© 2023 Miami Herald

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