Ask Jack: How Perpetrators Use Threats Of Suicide To Groom Their Targets

By Jack McCalmon, The McCalmon Group, Inc.

I read about children being enticed to provide pornography to perpetrators. How do they make children comply? Do they offer them money?


Perpetrators entice children to produce pornography in many ways. Paying money is one. Perpetrators will also threaten to harm themselves, as the DOJ recently reported regarding a former FBI contractor:

According to court documents, Brett Janes, 26, of Arlington, Virginia, allegedly contacted roughly a dozen minor boys over Discord and Snapchat. He allegedly groomed the minors by telling them he worked for a U.S. intelligence agency before repeatedly threatening suicide if the minors did not continue to communicate with him. Janes allegedly enticed one victim, a 13-year-old boy whom he met through the first-person shooter game Valorant, to strip and masturbate over a live video Discord call by threatening to kill himself and by paying him money over CashApp. He allegedly enticed a 12-year-old boy to create and send him child sexual abuse material (CSAM) over Discord through flattery and repeated begging. Janes allegedly received child sexual abuse material from these two minors, as well as two separate minor victims, and attempted to meet up with a minor. He also allegedly purchased hundreds of videos and images of child sexual abuse material from Telegram.

Minors, who are targets or victims of sexual abuse, are often sympathetic to their offenders. Targets and victims may deeply care for, or even love, their offender (but hate the offense). So, threatening suicide is a powerful manipulative means by which offenders make sure targets and victims comply against their will.

The final takeaway is that safe adults should not judge why children have engaged with an offender or continued to engage with an offender even after a crime was committed. Sex offenders often focus on minors because they can be manipulated, and they often will use any means necessary to commit the crime, as the above illustrates.

Jack McCalmon, Leslie Zieren, and Emily Brodzinski are attorneys with more than 50 years combined experience assisting employers in lowering their risk, including answering questions, like the one above, through the McCalmon Group's Best Practices Help Line. The Best Practice Help Line is a service of The McCalmon Group, Inc. Your organization may have access to The Best Practice Help Line or a similar service from another provider at no cost to you or at a discount. For questions about The Best Practice Help Line or what similar services are available to you via this Platform, call 888.712.7667.

If you have a question that you would like Jack McCalmon, Leslie Zieren, or Emily Brodzinski to consider for this column, please submit it to Please note that The McCalmon Group cannot guarantee that your question will be answered. Answers are based on generally accepted risk management best practices. They are not, and should not be considered, legal advice. If you need an answer immediately or desire legal advice, please call your local legal counsel.


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