CHICAGO (CBS)–A man from north suburban Niles is accused of terrorizing a young teenager he met online for more than three years by blackmailing her in exchange for pornographic photos and videos.
In a seven-count federal indictment unsealed last week, David Cottrell, 28, is charged with two counts of transportation of child pornography, one count of inducement of a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity, one count of extortion, one count of producing child porn, one count of attempting to produce child porn and one count of possession of child porn.
He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Cottrell, a former law student, allegedly met the girl online in a chat room in 2014 when she was in seventh grade and while he was pursuing a law degree at New York University in Manhattan, according to court documents. The relationship began when the teen sent him sexually-explicit photos on Snapchat at his request, under the belief that her identity would be secret.
After he received the initial semi-nude photos, according to the indictment, Cottrell told the girl her knew her real identity, her school, home address and where her parents worked.
He started threatening to tell her family about the photos if she didn’t continue sending pornographic images at his request, according to court documents.
During the next three years, the threats escalated, as Cottrell allegedly demanded more pornographic material from the teenager, until July 2017 when her parents saw some of the messages on her phone and called police, according to court documents.
Prosecutors claim the girl was crying in one of the videos.
Federal authorities searched his home in June, and Cottrell has known of the the charges against him since then, according to his lawyer, Kenneth Yeadon.
Yeadon fought to keep him out of jail after his Oct. 19 arrest, but a judge on Tuesday ordered him held without bond pending trial. A status hearing is scheduled for Nov. 6.
Cottrell was described by Yeadon as a lifelong resident of Niles who lives with his mother and works for his father’s accounting practice.
Since June when the charges were handed down, Yeardon has been working to complete his law degree, Yeardon said.