A cross-country truck driver has been indicted for soliciting nude photos of young boys in Massachusetts and two other states through Minecraft and other Xbox Live video games.
Zack Sawyer, 31, of Georgetown, Illinois, was indicted Thursday in U.S. District Court in Springfield on two counts of sexual exploitation of children.
According to court documents, Sawyer communicated with at least eight boys between the ages of 10 and 13 in Massachusetts, Illinois and Virginia.
In March of 2010, prosecutors said Sawyer used Xbox Live to contact two 12-year-old boys from Roselle, Illinois. He asked one boy to send him nude photos and the addresses and phone numbers of the boy's friend, and then engaged the other boy in sexually explicit chats. When the second boy blocked Sawyer from the XBox Live system, Sawyer responded with a death threat.
Two months later, in May of 2010, Sawyer allegedly used Xbox Live to contact two 13-year-old boys in Hampshire County, Massachusetts. He allegedly asked one boy to send him naked pictures and when the boy refused, Sawyer threatened to rape and kill him. Sawyer allegedly asked the second boy to send him naked pictures as well, and when he refused, Sawyer threatened to rape him, saying he had a drug that would paralyze people.
The Massachusetts charges are the basis for Thursday's indictment.
In August 2010, Sawyer allegedly used Xbox Live to contact a 12-year-old boy in Rockton, Illinois. He asked the boy to send him naked pictures and provide his address. When the boy refused, Sawyer told him, "I don't wanna have to do anything bad."
In January of 2011, Sawyer again used Xbox Live to contact two 13-year-old boys from Lockport, Illinois. He engaged both boys in sexually explicit conversations and threatened to kill them and their families if they told anyone about his contact with them.
Court documents also show that in early August of 2014, after Sawyer had already been notified that he was the subject of a Massachusetts arrest warrant, he used Minecraft to contact a 10-year-old boy in Loudon County, Virginia. Sawyer allegedly sent the boy a picture of his genitals and asked the boy to send him a similar photograph. On two occasions, the boy used Skype to show Sawyer his genitals.
In one online chat, Sawyer admitted to the Virginia boy that he was a "truck driver on the run from the cops."
Sawyer was ultimately arrested on Dec. 23, 2014.