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Missionary sent home over accusations of sextortion through Snapchat

Photo: Salt Lake County Jail

SOUTH JORDAN, Utah — A former missionary from South Jordan is accused of threatening more than 50 teenage girls online through the social media platform Snapchat.

Investigators issued an arrest warrant for $500,000 for 19-year-old Gabe Ryan Gilbert from South Jordan Monday. He was accused of contacting young teenage girls and threatening them if they would not send him nude photos.

According to charging documents, the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force began investigating in August after learning about reports that Gilbert had been using Snapchat to extort teens.

Investigators said it was “obvious the user had been engaging in very similar behavior with other underage girls. I identified well over 50 potential victims of this type of sexual extortion,” the charging documents stated.

This all came to light after a 15-year-old girl claimed that Gilbert “had threatened to photoshop images of her face onto nude photos unless she sent real nude pictures of herself,” the charges state. Charges also claimed that he had, in another conversation, allegedly threatened to “expose” her if she didn’t send a picture in one minute.

When police went to Gilbert’s home to question him, they found out that Gilbert left to serve a mission in Mexico for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in March.

Charging documents also said that the church contacted the Attorney General’s office in April, saying that Gilbert had been sent home after Gilbert’s mother had contacted his mission president.

When investigators returned to Gilbert’s home, the Deseret News reports agents said his parents refused to tell them where he was or talk to them without a lawyer.

“I told her Gabe was an adult and was free to decline to speak with me, but she cannot hide him,” an agent wrote.

According to the charging documents, an earlier girlfriend accused Gilbert of pressuring her to send him nude photos of herself in 2017, threatening to release the ones she had already sent if more weren’t given.

Investigators also accused Gilbert of threatening to send photos he had obtained from a 16-year-old in 2018 to her grandmother.

“His messages included threats to send rapists and human traffickers to her house,” agents wrote. When the girl said she was not scared of Gilbert, they say he “sent four screenshots of (her) exact location, down to an image of her house.”

Gilbert faces five counts of aggravated sexual extortion of a child and four counts of sexual exploitation of a minor in Utah’s Third District Court.

KSL has confirmed that Gilbert was released on bail this morning.