Leonard C Boyle, Acting United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that BRIAN GRINNELL, 36, of Lakewood, Ohio, pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Michael P. Shea in Hartford to distribution of child pornography.
According to court documents and statements made in court, in March 2020, Grinnell posed as a 15-year-old girl and met a female, who at the time was under the age of 12, on Omegle, an online chat website and mobile application that allows users to interact with strangers. Shortly thereafter, he began communicating with the minor victim on Snapchat. Grinnell told the minor victim to take sexually explicit photos and videos of herself and send them to Grinnell over Snapchat. After the minor victim began to feel threatened by Grinnell, she unfriended and blocked Grinnell’s account.
Grinnell subsequently contacted a friend of the minor victim on TikTok and stated that unless the minor victim got in touch with him, he would post a video of the minor victim naked on TikTok. Grinnell then posted sexually explicit videos of the minor victim on TikTok. When a friend of the minor victim, who is also a minor, begged Grinnell not to post additional videos of the minor victim, Grinnell stated “I want a video of you begging me to not put them up. And you have to be topless in the video. If you don’t want any more of your friend stuff going out.” After the friend told Grinnell that they would call the police, Grinnell responded “How are they gonna find me?” Grinnell then proceeded to post another video of the minor victim on TikTok.
Grinnell has been detained since his arrest on September 23, 2020.
Judge Shea scheduled sentencing for July 19 at which time Grinnell faces a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of five years and a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years.
This investigation has been conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the New Canaan Police Department, with assistance from the Cuyahoga County (Ohio) Prosecutor’s Office and Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tara E. Levens and Sarala V. Nagala through the U.S. Department of Justice’s Project Safe Childhood Initiative, which is aimed at protecting children from sexual abuse and exploitation. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.