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An Eastvale man pleaded guilty Monday to coercing minors he met via the Internet to send him explicit images and videos of themselves.

Francisco Javier Soledad, 25, admitted a federal charge of using a facility of interstate commerce — cyberspace — to induce a child into engaging in sexual activity.

The plea agreement was announced during a pretrial hearing before U.S. District Judge Jesus Bernal at the federal courthouse in downtown Riverside. In exchange for Soledad’s admission, prosecutors agreed to drop 16 related charges, including possession and distribution of child pornography.

Soledad, who is free on bond, is facing 10 or more years in federal prison, with sentencing set for Jan. 22.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the investigation into the defendant’s activity began earlier this year when U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement agents became aware that he had been communicating with a half- dozen boys between the ages of 12 and 15. Most of the contact occurred over a two-month span in 2016, according to prosecutors.

Soledad would take on the persona of a young boy or adult woman while interacting with the victims via social media, using the handle “linkinparkrocks,” prosecutors said.

He convinced the boys to send him nude and other compromising pictures and videos of themselves, according to an indictment unsealed in April.

“Several of the victims refused demands to send additional images, which allegedly prompted Soledad to threaten to publish the previously sent images on social media platforms,” said U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman Thom Mrozek. “In at least one instance, Soledad did in fact publish one of the victim’s nude images on Twitter.”

Investigators executed a search warrant at the defendant’s property in March, resulting in his arrest and the seizure of a large number of digital files containing children engaged in sexual activity, according to court papers.

The youths involved resided in locations throughout the U.S., as far away as Georgia. Not all of the boys were identified.

Soledad has no prior documented felony convictions.

–City News Service

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