An Ohio University student is facing charges of sexual battery and extortion for allegedly persuading another male student to send him sexually compromising images of himself by pretending to be a woman in text messages. He then allegedly used the images to blackmail the student into having sex with him by threatening to post them on social media.
Dorian J. Graham, 19, an OU student from Bedford Heights, Ohio, who was living in a residence hall, was indicted Nov. 25 on one count each of sexual battery, attempted sexual battery, extortion and attempted extortion. He pleaded not guilty to the charges in Athens County Common Pleas Court Dec. 4.
According to a bill of particulars, on Sept. 20 Graham texted another student "under a female pseudonym and started a 'texting relationship' with (him)." Graham then allegedly persuaded this student to send a nude photo and/or video of himself to Graham, who was still pretending to be female. Based on the account in the bill of particulars, the imagery the student sent may have been of him engaging in some type of sexual activity.
On Sept. 23 shortly before 5 a.m. Coordinated Universal Time (which would be around midnight in Ohio), Graham allegedly contacted the second student and told him to look at a certain website; when the student did so, he saw the visual material he had sent to Graham, the bill of particulars says. The alleged victim then "begged" Graham to take the material down from the website, telling him that it could "really f--- my whole life up… Can you please take it down."
Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn said Monday that the victim in the case then agreed against his will to engage in sexual activity with Graham on Sept. 23, to avoid having the pictures disseminated online.
"(Graham threatened), 'I'm going to tell everybody about this; I'm going to let everyone see this,'" the prosecutor said. Blackburn said the victim apparently mistakenly believed Graham's false claim that a woman was blackmailing both him and the victim into engaging in the sexual activity and recording it for her viewing enjoyment.
The bill of particulars reflects this claim as well, alleging that Graham "was pretending that he also was being extorted into this sexual activity."
Graham allegedly told the other student that he, Graham, had removed the original imagery from the website, but when the student checked, it was still up. Graham removed the images later, and informed the student of this, the bill of particulars says.
The attempted battery and attempted extortion charges stem from a later date, after the sexual contact took place Sept. 23, the bill of particulars says.
According to the document, however, Graham's second attempt at extortion "started before the first was even completed." In the early morning hours of Sept. 23, it says, shortly before the website images were taken down, Graham allegedly texted the student and told him – apparently in reference to an earlier set of images – "You can do it again the right way during the day so it's not so dark and sketchy and stuff. And if you do it the way we ask, then we will both delete what we have."
Graham then allegedly tried to use the images he had to further blackmail his victim – according to Blackburn, to coerce him into having sex with him again. Graham started this extortion effort "in earnest" in early October, the bill of particulars alleges, texting the student Oct. 2 with the message, "So what if I blackmail you."
Further exchanges allegedly followed, culminating in a message from Graham stating simply, "Instagram and Facebook," and another about 20 minutes later asking, "So do I have to post it?"
The second student allegedly texted Graham around 15 minutes after that, stating that he wasn't interested in sex with another man: "It's not me. I'm clearly not your type; can we just leave it at that?" He also allegedly warned Graham that if he posted the images as threatened, the victim would contact law enforcement.
Graham then allegedly texted back saying, "Well I'd call now if I were you. Instagram is up and Facebook is going up in a minute," and followed up about 38 minutes later saying, "OK so I'm leaving both up." At this point, the document suggests, the victim went to the OU police.
Graham has been released on his own recognizance with a $10,000 bond guaranteed by a bail bondsman.
He has a trial tentatively scheduled for Feb. 25.