Kyle Gaumnitz sentenced to 28 months, three years supervision

Gaumnitz must register as a sex offender, pay fines; protection order issued to five victims



JAYCE CARRAL, Evergreen reporter

Former WSU student Kyle Gaumnitz was sentenced to 28 months in prison on Oct. 4 that will be followed by three years of supervision after pleading guilty on Sept. 5 to extortion in the second degree with sexual motivation.

Whitman County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Dan LeBeau said Gaumnitz’s initial charges included five counts of extortion in the second degree with sexual motivation.

According to the plea agreement, Gaumntiz is required to register as a sex offender, spend 28 months in prison and forfeit any property seized during the execution of search warrants. Gaumnitz will also have to pay $800 in fees.

LeBeau said Gaumnitz will be supervised by the Washington State Department of Corrections (DOC) for three years after he is released from prison.

Sexual assault protection orders have been issued for the five victims, according to the plea agreement. The protection orders will last for seven years. LeBeau said the victims will be able to get the order extended if they choose to do so.

WSU Police Department Administrative Sgt. Dawn Daniels said there were multiple reports of attempted extortion over the years. She said the investigation was led by Corporal Brett Boyd and Officer Jeff Olmstead.

Daniels said the investigating officers found a pattern between several reports.

“Back in ’17, we got a case where somebody reported that they’re being threatened by somebody,” she said.

Daniels said Gaumnitz’s modus operandi (MO) included using social media to find information about his victims such as the names of their family and friends. She said Gaumnitz would use the information he found to extort the victims into sending him nude photographs of themselves.

According to the Certificate of Probable Cause and the Summary of Facts, Gaumnitz’s victims included women he knew such as coworkers, high school classmates, WSU classmates, ex-girlfriends and friends. Gaumnitz would contact them through social media such as Facebook, Snapchat and Tinder and tell the victims he had nude photographs of them.

Gaumnitz would then threaten to send those photographs to his victims’ family and friends unless they sent him more photographs, according to the Summary of Facts.

Daniels said Gaumnitz was able to access a lot of information about the victims from social media and internet searches.

“He did a lot of threatening within the posts, but he also had a lot of information about people,” she said. “That made them think that he actually knew them and was watching them.”

Daniels said Gaumnitz would use aliases when creating the social media accounts he used to extort the victims. The profiles he used were based on people he knew such as his acquaintances or acquaintances of his friends.

“He would go on and look at their Facebook page and steal their identity,” she said.

Two aliases Gaumnitz used were Nathan Giles and Jake Johnson, according to the Summary of Facts.

Daniels said several search warrants were issued during the investigation. Some warrants included looking at social media platforms such as Facebook, Snapchat and Tinder. Search warrants for Gaumnitz’s property were issued where different technology devices were seized.

The forensics department analyzed the computer and found information for several possible victims, Daniels said. The information found included search history, possible victim names and phone numbers, she said.

“We had to contact every single one of them to find out what had happened to them and what they knew,” Daniels said.

LeBeau said during the investigation, over 75 victims’ cases were connected to Gaumnitz.

“We charged for five of those women,” LeBeau said. “And he actually got convicted for doing something to all five of them by pleading guilty to each of the five counts.”

LeBeau said there were four main reasons not all the victims’ cases were tried. First, several victims did not want to participate in court proceedings, he said. Second, some cases did not meet the definition of the crime. Third, some cases could not be undeniably linked to Gaumnitz, he said.

In some cases, the victims ceased all contact with Gaumnitz after being threatened, LeBeau said.

“They cut off contact and he didn’t get to the point where he could try to extort anything,” LeBeau said.

He said the fourth reason was that some cases were not in the prosecution’s jurisdiction. Some cases were based in Moscow, he said.

Daniels said some cases were based in Walla Walla, Washington.

Daniels said the WSU Police Department investigated cases involving victims from ROTC, of which Gaumnitz was a member. She said the Pullman Police Department also investigated cases involving victims from the Grove where Gaumnitz worked.

“We traced things back to him when he was in high school,” she said. “Some of the people that he went to high school with were victims. Being able to track him back prior to WSU; this pattern of behavior was starting [then].”

According to the Summary of Facts, Gaumnitz is currently a suspect in an investigation led by the Richland Police Department in Richland, Washington where Gaumnitz went to high school.

After pleading guilty on Sept. 5, Gaumnitz was booked into the Whitman County Jail where he remained until the sentencing on Oct. 4. Gaumnitz will get credit for time served, meaning about a month will be subtracted from his sentence.

The DOC transferred Gaumnitz to prison on Oct. 9.

The Daily Evergreen reached out to Gaumnitz’s attorney for comment but did not receive a response by the time of publication.