Ryan Vallee, the “sextortionist” on the Netflix series Web of Make Believe, was released from federal prison in 2022.
Vallee, now 28, was sentenced to 96 months in prison for forcing teenagers to send him sexually explicit material, often using death threats and violence to manipulate them. Vallee was able to hack the social media accounts of many of his victims. He was released on January 20, 2022, according to the Federal Office for Correctional Services.
His mother cried and hugged three of the victims, who chose to speak out about Vallee’s actions in court. according to the Laconia Daily Sun, which included his conviction. She told the newspaper she knew her son’s victims.
Vallee was the subject of the fourth episode of Web of Make Believe: Death, Lies and the Internet. He used the names “Seth Williams” and “James McRow” as aliases, according to the US Department of Justice.
Here’s what you need to know:
Vallee’s defense attorneys hoped his autism diagnosis would help him avoid jail time
Vallee’s defense attorney Jonathan Saxe claimed his client was emotionally stunted because he was on the autism spectrum and further claimed his client failed to understand the seriousness of his actions.
“That was something he did on the computer. He didn’t understand his impact,” said Saxe. according to the Laconia Daily Sun.
Saxe characterized Vallee’s behavior as showing an “astonishing lack of empathy”. But the judge noted that Vallee’s actions went further, the newspaper reported, and that he knew he was harming the victims and causing them deep humiliation.
Vallee pleaded guilty in August 2016 to 13 counts of interstate threats, nine counts of computer fraud and abuse, eight counts of aggravated identity theft and cyberstalking. according to the US Department of Justice.
“Vallee admitted that he repeatedly sent his victims threats in electronic form, usually using spoofing or anonymizing text messaging services, in which he threatened his victims that he would continue the behavior described above if they did not sexually assault him gave explicit photos of themselves,” the U.S. Department of Justice said. “According to the admissions in the defense agreement, when most of the victims refused to comply with Vallee’s demands and asked him to leave them alone, Vallee responded by threatening to inflict additional harm.”
One victim testified at sentencing that she was “trapped” by Vallee
Three of the victims appeared in court to testify how Vallee’s crimes affected their lives. according to the Laconia Daily Sun.
“The thing that affected me the most was being trapped,” said one victim.
She told the court she changed her phone number several times and moved to feel safe.
“People can’t quite understand what I’ve been through. The emotional scars will never go away. It never ends,” she said, according to the newspaper.
“I was scared in my own house,” said another victim.
She said Vallee hacked into her email and Amazon accounts and accessed her credit cards. She told the court she believed her sense of security had disappeared permanently.
“I don’t know how I’m ever going to feel comfortable even if he’s in prison,” she said. “I feel like I can’t trust anyone.”
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