PENNSYLVANIA – His crimes as cruel and disturbing as they were pervasive, a 27-year-old man who sexually extorted and harassed 15 victims over several years, including one young woman who later killed herself, was sentenced on Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023, to serve 20 to 51 years in state prison.
At his sentencing, victims and their families described the immeasurable emotional damage caused by Ian Pisarchuk, of Bensalem Township, who used anonymous Snapchat accounts to threaten and torment dozens of females, some as young as 12 years old, into sending him sexually explicit photos and videos.
Standing with her husband at her side, the mother of Lindsey Piccone tearfully described their daughter, who was born premature, as a “miracle baby” who meant everything to them. “Lindsey was our world,” she said.
Their daughter was one of Pisarchuk’s first victims in September 2016. A day after Pisarchuk repeatedly demanded Piccone send him sexually explicit photos, she left her Bensalem home, leaving behind a note with the message, “before someone else ruins my life, I’m ruining mine.” She was found dead two months later at Tyler State Park, her death ruled a suicide.
“Our world and lives were changed forever,” the mother cried, questioning what Pisarchuk did to their daughter that left her feeling so helpless she felt her only option was to take her own life. “What did you do to her mind?”
Even after Piccone’s death, Pisarchuk continued to harass and threaten girls and young women into sending him disturbingly explicit videos and photos, Deputy District Attorney Brittney Kern said, and once he got them, he threatened to expose them, if they didn’t send more. Pisarchuk threatened to post them to social media, and send them to relatives, friends, classmates, and potential employers. He even used Piccone’s suicide as a way to intimidate his victims, showing them what he was capable of if they didn’t comply to his demands, Kern said.
“They lived in fear, not knowing what this defendant was going to do,” Kern said. President Judge Wallace H. Bateman Jr. said Pisarchuk’s crimes shocked the conscience of everyone who has heard about the case and a lengthy period of incarceration and supervision is necessary to protect the community. In sentencing Pisarchuk to serve 20 to 51 years in a state correctional institution, Bateman said, “each victim deserves some sort of justice.”
“You have done something to them that they may never recover from,” Bateman said. “Only to satisfy your perverted state of mind.”
While Pisarchuk was never charged directly with Piccone’s death, he did face charges for his repeated sexual extortion of her and 14 others. He pleaded guilty on Tuesday, March 1, 2022, to 67 total counts of enticing a minor to produce child pornography, possession of child pornography, unlawful contact with a minor, corruption of minors, sexual extortion, stalking, terroristic threats, harassment, and cyber harassment of a child.
“The actions of this defendant are truly horrific, and the impact he has had on the victims, their families, and the community is immeasurable,” Kern said. “I am relieved that this defendant was stopped before he could ruin any additional lives. I hope that others who are victims of similar crimes feel empowered to come forward to police and report what has happened to them, so we can investigate and do our best to achieve some form of justice for them.”
This past summer, the state passed Lindsey’s Law, a sentencing enhancement for people whose sexual extortion leads to serious bodily injury or death of the victim. Pisarchuk was first charged on June 8, 2021, with the sexual extortion of six victims, one of them only 12 years old. Weeks later, nine more victims were identified, and additional charges were filed on July 27. The investigation into Pisarchuk began in late 2020 when a juvenile victim came forward to say she was being harassed on Snapchat by someone threatening that he had nude pictures of her and was going to post them online. The investigation led detectives to an IP address linked to Pisarchuk.
A forensic examination of Pisarchuk’s phone yielded dozens of sexually explicit photos and videos of both juveniles and adults, as well as information directing them to several additional victims. One of the victims identified was 21-year-old Lindsey Piccone. In 2021, Bensalem Township Detectives were able to determine that Ian Pisarchuk had messaged Piccone repeatedly on Sept. 5, 2016, through an anonymous Snapchat account, demanding that she send him nude photographs. If she didn’t, he threatened he would ruin her life. After she sent him photos, Pisarchuk said he would be contacting her again the next day. It was that day that Piccone was reported missing by her parents, leaving behind a note that she had been contacted by an unknown Snapchat user who threatened to expose and blackmail her. Piccone’s body was found two months later. Further forensic analysis of Pisarchuk’s electronic devices and the cooperation of nine additional victims as young as 14 years old led to more charges in July.
The investigation found that Pisarchuk would seek to build rapport with the victims before threatening to expose or do harm to them or others if they did not comply with his demands for sexually explicit images and videos. He used several different Snapchat usernames during the four years he tormented young women and girls on the social media site. Detective Woelkers testified Thursday that Pisarchuk would send up to 20 Snapchat messages a minute to girls and young women, casting a wide net of potential victims. On Pisarchuk’s cellphone, investigators located hundreds of photos and videos, belonging to 150 to 200 different women, Woelkers testified.
“Behind a computer screen, Pisarchuk felt he had power and control, something he lacked in everyday life,” the detective testified. Before handing down his sentence, Bateman told Pisarchuk that because of the first juvenile victim to come forward and superb police work by Bensalem Detectives, “they took that control away from you.”
This case was investigated by Bensalem Police Detectives Aaron Woelkers and Ryan Kolb and was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Brittney Kern.
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