A Jackson County Grand Jury indicted a man from Illinois today for forcefully coercing minor females to send sexually explicit images through Facebook and Facebook messenger.
The Southern Oregon Child Exploitation Team (SOCET) began the investigation after receiving a report from a local minor child victim. Through further investigations, SOCET discovered 29 minor child victims throughout the United States and Canada. SOCET worked with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) to identify the out-of-state victims and build the federal case. Locally, the case is being prosecuted by the Jackson County District Attorney’s office.
The suspect, Michael Anthony Ferris, 43, of Mill Shoals, Illinois, is charged with three felony counts of using a child in display of sexually explicit conduct, and coercion.
These charges stem from a report Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) took May 8, 2020 of a sex offense in the Rogue Valley. The mother of a minor child victim reported her daughter came in contact with an unknown suspect posing as a friend on Facebook. Using threats and intimidation, the suspect coerced the juvenile to send him nude photos. SOCET took over the investigation and discovered Ferris victimized many other minor children sexually, including a victim in Salem, Ore.
Ferris repeatedly used electronic devices and interactive computer services to transmit threatening communications to minor females and young women across the United States and Canada. Ferris transmitted these threatening communications with the intent to extort digital images, videos, or webcam video of the victims in various states of undress, exposing themselves, and engaging in sexually explicit conduct. Ferris used a number of different names on Facebook and Facebook messenger, to include “Sammy Gray” and “Sarah Mansfield.”
Ferris is currently incarcerated in Illinois on 27 total felony counts. These charges include two counts of sexual exploitation of a child under 18, six counts of attempted sexual exploitation of a child under 18, distribution of child pornography, nine counts of interstate extortion, and nine counts of cyberstalking.
SOCET enables local law enforcement agencies to collaborate with federal partners such as HSI, to effectively investigate and prosecute out-of-state suspects when they victimize children in our community.
SOCET is a joint inter-agency task force that started in June of 2020 to combat child exploitation and human trafficking. The task force consists of investigators from JCSO, Medford Police Department, Grants Pass Police Department, and HSI; as well as prosecutors from our local, state and federal law enforcement partners in Jackson and Josephine County.
Investigators have reason to believe Ferris may have other victims. If anyone has additional information on the suspect, please call your local law enforcement agency or the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office tip line at (541) 774-8333.
Courtesy of JCSO