Editor’s note: This story includes details that some people may find upsetting. If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual abuse or assault, contact the police or The Tompkins County Advocacy Center here.
ITHACA, N.Y. — The U.S. Attorney’s Office has charged Jeffrey Blake, 49, of Ithaca, with attempting to coerce two children into sexual activities during an undercover FBI sting operation.
According to the complaint filed in the U.S District Court for the Northern District of New York, an undercover law enforcement officer based in the FBI Albany Field Office received an online message on a dating application indicating sexual interest in children. The message came from an account based in Ithaca with the username “J” and was later linked to Blake.
An initial message from J to the undercover officer read, “Finding out more about what you’re looking for. Into younggg.” Investigators understood the message to indicate that J was interested in sex with children, according to the complaint, and began exchanging text messages. They allegedly traced the phone number used by J to Blake.
Between June 12 and Aug. 23, 2019, Blake continued to communicate with the undercover officer. The officer posed as a mother with two daughters, ages 9 and 13. Blake texted that he wanted to engage in sexual activities with the mother and her daughters, and the undercover officer provided phone numbers so he could reach out to them directly.
Blake continued to text the two numbers, which he believed belonged to the young girls, with sexually explicit content over the course of two months. He sent messages encouraging the girls to touch their genitals and telling them how he would touch them and have sex with them when they met in person, according to court records of the exchange.
On Aug. 15, Blake had a phone conversation with the officer, who was posing as the girls’ mother. They arranged a meeting in Binghamton during which Blake would “have sex” with the two children. According to the complaint, they discussed how he would bring gifts including lip gloss, dresses and sex toys for the children.
Blake arrived for the meeting at the agreed upon location in Binghamton at 1:30 p.m. Aug. 23. He was carrying jewelry, which he admitted he planned to give the children. He was placed under arrest and admitted to law enforcement that he was the same person who had been communicating with the undercover officer, the complaint states. He admitted to exchanging messages with the accounts he believed belonged to the 9 and 13-year-old girls.
Blake is facing a federal charge of coercion and enticement of a minor. He appeared in court Monday in Binghamton, according to court records, and was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals.