BOSTON — A Taunton man was sentenced today in federal court in Boston for coercing and attempting to coerce seven minors into sending him sexually explicit images and for producing and distributing child pornography.

Joseph Debrum, 40, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton to 18 years in prison and seven years of supervised release after pleading guilty in April 2017 to seven counts of coercion and enticement of a minor, six counts of sexual exploitation of children, and two counts of distribution of child pornography.

Between May 2014 and March 2015, Debrum assumed fictitious online identities of a 21-year-old woman and a 16-year-old girl, which he used to coerce seven 13-to-16-year-old girls living in six states to send him sexually explicit photos of themselves over the internet. On some occasions, Debrum coerced victims to perform sexual acts live online while he watched and took photos of the screen on his cell phone. He also coerced them to take and email him photos of themselves performing sexual acts.

For 10 months, Debrum preyed on vulnerable teens by meeting them in specific online chatrooms, such as Kidzworld and Teenspot, as well as on Skype and Kik Messenger, where he feigned those identities by lying about his true age and gender to each of the victims during chats. He befriended them, learned personal details, and then threatened to expose what they told him in confidence if they did not acquiesce to his demands to pose nude or perform sexual acts on themselves for him to watch. Debrum referred to at least one girl as his “slave,” and as he accumulated more compromising material, he used it as leverage to coerce more sexual acts by issuing further threats, including telling one child he would kill her if she did not perform a sexual act for him.

Debrum also disseminated some of the sexually explicit photos of the minors over the internet. He sent photos of one victim to another victim, and sent pictures of a victim to that victim’s mother, telling her that he would expose her daughter unless the mother became his sex slave. The mother subsequently contacted law enforcement.

On April 2, 2015, Debrum was interviewed by law enforcement and admitted to assuming fictitious female identities while communicating online with the victims. He also admitted to asking them to take sexually explicit pictures and to perform specific sexual acts.

Acting United States Attorney William D. Weinreb and Matthew Etre, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston, made the announcement today. Assistance was provided by the Taunton Police Department and Loudon County, Va., Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Suzanne Sullivan Jacobus and Anne Paruti of Weinreb’s Major Crimes Unit prosecuted the case.

The case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood. In 2006, the Department of Justice created Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from exploitation and abuse. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the DOJ’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children, as well as identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit

--U.S. Attorney's Office

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