FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – A Fort Wayne man has been charged with multiple felonies after he allegedly engaged in an online relationship with a 12-year-old girl from New Hampshire.
Joseph Coder, 34, a former marine who has since worked in landscaping was arrested on September 9 following an ongoing investigation between the Fort Wayne Police Department and the Pittsfield Police Department of New Hampshire. The Fort Wayne Police Department received a “cyber tip” from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which came from the mother of the 12-year-old victim’s friend.
Coder was charged Thursday with vicarious sexual gratification and child solicitation, level 4 felonies; performing sexual conduct in the presence of a minor and possession of child pornography of both a 10-year-old and a 12-year-old, level 6 felonies. He was also charged with inappropriate communication with a child, a misdemeanor count.
The affidavit reveals the victim stated that she was in a group chat on her phone when her friend introduced her to Coder, whom she identified as her online friend. During the chat, Coder gave the victim his cell phone number. Coder and the victim began communicating on social media apps, such as KIK, Hangouts, and Snapchat, as well as texting and video chats. The victim reported that exchanges with Coder started off as friendly conversation, but later turned into an online relationship, which lasted from late February until late July.
When they initially began communicating, Coder and the victim were both claiming to be 16 years old. Eventually, Coder told the victim he was 18 years old. The victim then told Coder she was 14 years old. Later, the victim’s friend who had introduced them told Coder the victim was only 12 years old. When confronted by Coder, the victim finally revealed herself to be 12 years old, at which point, Coder told the victim he was 23 years old. According to the affidavit, the victim had told Coder she was afraid he would not want to talk to her if he had known her real age.
According to the affidavit, the victim reported that Coder would start conversations with her, wondering what a 12-year-old girl would look like naked. Coder also mentioned that he wanted to try some of things with the victim that he had done with his ex-girlfriend. The victim reported Coder asked for nude photos, and the victim sent him images of her vagina and breasts. Coder also sent the victim an image of his penis. The victim reported Coder pressuring her to send him nude images and that they also engaged in video chats where they would masturbate to each other.
Coder then began asking the victim to send him nude photos of her 10-year-old sister. According to the affidavit, while her sister slept, the victim took nude photos of her sister, and later sent them to Coder. Coder also asked the victim to send him pictures of her friends, but she wouldn’t send them. Coder had also asked the victim’s friend, who had introduced him to the victim, for nude images, but she did not send any to him.
In late August, Coder had contacted the victim on KIK. The victim told Coder about the investigation and that the police were involved. Coder demanded the victim not share any information about their sexual conversations, video chats or any information regarding her younger sister, warning her he would go to jail.
During an interview at the Fort Wayne Police Department Detective Bureau, Coder admitted he knew the victim was only 12 years old and admitted to exchanging photos and messages with her, as well as masturbating on video to her. He also admitted that he knew the victim’s sister was only 10 years old.