ROCK ISLAND, Ill. – A Geneseo, Illinois, man, Tristan Blank, 24, of the 0-100 block of Tulip Court, pleaded guilty today to five counts of sexual exploitation of a minor. Sentencing for Blank has been scheduled for May 12, 2022, at the U.S. Courthouse in Davenport, Iowa.
In court before Chief U.S. District Judge Sara Darrow, Blank admitted that he pretended to be a female to entice minors to send him sexually explicit photos and videos online. During the hearing, the government stated that Blank was arrested after posing as a female online and arranging to meet a minor to perform oral sex on the minor. Further investigation revealed that Blank used a female persona to entice over 20 victims to send him nude photographs and videos. Blank then threatened to distribute the images if the victims did not continue sending images or perform sexual acts with Blank.
Blank remains in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service pending sentencing.
Blank faces a mandatory minimum term of 15 years’ imprisonment and up to 150 years’ imprisonment.
The case investigation was conducted by the United States Secret Service, the Illinois State Police, the Geneseo Police Department, the Colona Police Department, the Henry County Sheriff’s Office, and the Kewanee Police Department, with assistance of the Braveheart Children’s Advocacy Center. Assistant United States Attorney Alyssa Raya is representing the government in the prosecution.
The case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a Department of Justice initiative led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), to marshal federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.