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Former WSU student charged with five counts of felony extortion

Previous ROTC member allegedly demanded nude photos, sex acts

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Former WSU student charged with five counts of felony extortion

The Evergreen works to provide the best information about recent crime and court updates in the Pullman area.

The Evergreen works to provide the best information about recent crime and court updates in the Pullman area.

OLIVER MCKENNA | THE DAILY EVERGREEN

The Evergreen works to provide the best information about recent crime and court updates in the Pullman area.

OLIVER MCKENNA | THE DAILY EVERGREEN

OLIVER MCKENNA | THE DAILY EVERGREEN

The Evergreen works to provide the best information about recent crime and court updates in the Pullman area.

CARMEN JARAMILLO, Evergreen reporter

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A former WSU student allegedly attempted to extort naked photos from dozens of women across four states.

Kyle Gaumnitz, a 24-year-old, was charged Monday with five counts of felony extortion, with a sexual motivation in Whitman County Superior Court.

Gaumnitz allegedly contacted over 27 female victims electronically in Washington, Idaho, Oregon and California, telling them he had nude photographs of them. In almost every case, Gaumnitz threatened to release the photos, which in several cases did not exist, to the victims’ friends, family and workplaces if they did not comply with demands, according to court documents.

Gaumnitz allegedly demanded his victims send him additional nude photographs or perform sexual acts on camera via Snapchat or other web services. Some victims complied with these demands, according to court documents.

Many of the victims knew Gaumnitz in some way, according to court documents. Several were former girlfriends, co-workers, acquaintances, classmates or friends.

While allegedly attempting to extort his victims, Gaumnitz told them he would ruin their lives, be their “worst nightmare,” or that he would hurt them if they did not comply, according to court documents.

When one alleged victim, who is identified as Gaumnitz’s former high school girlfriend, refused to comply with her harasser’s demands, was told  that “he knew where she lived and was going to come to her house and kill her,” according to court documents.

Gaumnitz was identified by police as the alleged perpetrator after tracing communications from two Snapchat accounts to IP addresses associated with his name, according to court documents. The two Snapchat accounts were used to harass two WSU students in fall 2017.

In February 2018, police searched Gaumnitz’s home and seized a desktop computer, as well as multiple laptops, tablets and cellphones. Through forensic analysis of the electronics, police were able to identify the other 25 victims, according to court documents.

Gaumnitz is a suspect in three other similar criminal investigations in Washington state, which account for close to 50 additional victims, according to court documents.

One investigation at the Pullman Police Department, which occurred in February 2017 and was never solved, centered around 35 victims who received similarly threatening text messages. The victims in this case were all connected to The Grove apartment complex, many of them current or former tenants. Gaumnitz was an employee at The Grove during this time period and would have had access to tenant names and phone numbers, according to court documents.

Another investigation ongoing at the WSU Police Department has identified 12 female Air Force ROTC cadets who experienced similar extortion and harassment. Gaumnitz was a member of the Air Force ROTC at the time and IP addresses associated with his name have been identified in the case, according to court documents.

Another investigation is ongoing in Richland, Washington, with a single female victim who attended high school with Gaumnitz. IP addresses associated with Gaumnitz have been identified in this case as well, according to court documents.

Gaumnitz is scheduled to appear at 10 a.m. on March 22 in Whitman County Superior Court.

Extortion with sexual motivation constitutes a class C felony in Washington state. Each individual charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

For each of the five charges against Gaumnitz, the Whitman County Prosecutor’s office intends to seek a sentence “above the standard sentencing range,” according to court documents.

 

About the Writer
CARMEN JARAMILLO, Evergreen reporter

Carmen is a senior majoring in multimedia journalism and political science from Port Townsend, Washington

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Former WSU student charged with five counts of felony extortion