Texas deputy met 12-year-old on Minecraft, threatened to expose sexual videos, feds say

A former Texas sheriff’s deputy accused of threatening to expose sexual images of a 12-year-old girl he met playing Minecraft has been sentenced to prison, officials say.

Pasquale T. Salas, a former deputy at the Matagorda County Sheriff’s Office, pleaded guilty to sexual exploitation of a minor and cyberstalking a girl from Massachusetts, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts. A federal judge sentenced him Tuesday to just over 18 years in prison.

“The defendant was an online predator disguised in a law enforcement uniform,” U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling said in a news release. “He used the internet to gain the trust of vulnerable children and then turned around and exploited their innocence and played on their fears.”

Salas met the girl in 2014 while playing the popular online game and started communicating with her through text, Skype and Snapchat, asking her to share sexual photos and videos, prosecutors say. He was about 20 years old at the time and not yet employed by the sheriff’s office, according to court records.

By 2016, Salas had began threatening to expose the images of the girl if she didn’t stay in contact with him and keep sharing sexually explicit videos and photos, prosecutors say.

He was employed as a deputy in January 2016, the sheriff’s office said.

Salas sent a list of rules and punishments for the girl to follow, which included that she was his property and wasn’t to speak with boys, according to court records. Investigators found a handwritten list of the rules inside Salas’ wallet in his patrol vehicle when he was arrested, prosecutors say.

Prosecutors say Salas admitted to meeting another 12-year-old girl playing Minecraft and coerced her into sharing sexually explicit images. He sent her a photo of himself inside a patrol vehicle and a picture of a gun, prosecutors say. Salas told the girl he had law enforcement friends in Massachusetts who would follow her, prosecutors say.

The first girl Salas met online shared a statement for the sentencing hearing, Mass Live reported.

He has made my life a living hell for so many years,” she wrote, according to the news outlet. “I was naive, innocent and very vulnerable. My teenage years were wasted over a disgusting human being that I wish I never met.”

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