UGA grad student charged with cyberstalking, extorting victim

A University of Georgia graduate student is in federal custody accused of extorting and cyberstalking at least one woman for over a year.

The Department of Justice says 23-year-old Athens resident Gary E. Leach was charged with one count of cyberstalking and one count of extortion through interstate threats on Friday.

According to the charges, the incident began in October of 2019, when officials say Leach obtained private sexual video calls and photographs of the victim by falsely promising to pay her and recording her without her knowledge.

After receiving the sexually explicit recordings, Leach is accused of threatening to share them with the victim's family if she didn't continue to send him content over Instagram - repeatedly harassing and extorting her. 

Officials accused Leach of using anonymous Instagram accounts including ones featuring nicknames of the victim or variations on "u.kno_who."

In his communications, Leach allegedly told the victim that she was not the only one he had done this to, saying "Sweetheart I have hundreds of vids and thousands of pictures meticulously categorized by name" and that some of the women did not know they had been recorded.

If convicted, Leach could be sentenced to up to five years in prison, years of supervised release, and up to $500,000 in fines.

If you believe you may be a victim of the allegations found in the case, federal agents are asking you to get in contact with them through their witness assistance program.

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