David Cottrell, a former law student from north suburban Niles, is accused of terrorizing a young teenager he met online for more than three years. According to the Chicago Tribune, Cottrell has been threatening her in exchange for pornographic photos and videos.
In a seven-count federal indictment, Cottrell is charged with two counts of transportation of child pornography, one count of inducement of a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity, one count of extortion, one count of producing child porn, one count of attempting to produce child porn and one count of possession of child porn.
He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
David Cottrell, 28, met the girl through an online chatroom in 2014 when she was 13 and he was studying at New York University for a law degree, according to court documents.
The relationship began when the teen sent Cottrell sexually-explicit photos on Snapchat at his request, under the belief that her identity would be secret. However, after he received the initial semi-nude photos, according to the indictment, Cottrell told the girl that he knew her real identity, her school, home address and where her parents worked.
Cottrell then started threatening to tell the girl’s family about the photos if she didn’t continue sending pornographic images at his request, according to the court document.
During the next three years, the threats escalated as Cottrell allegedly demanded more pornographic materials from the girl, including staying up late during school nights to act out pornographic “scripts” for him and leaving her middle school classes at times to take nude photos of herself in the bathroom, the Tribune reported.
“One bad move and ur parents get a letter from concerned parents about their daughter distributing porn to other children,” Cottrell allegedly messaged to the victim, who was 13 at the time.
Cottrell also bragged that he would never be caught because he’d encrypted all the files and knew how to amass child pornography without garnering the attention of authorities, prosecutors alleged.
In October 2016, he messaged the victim while she was in math class, telling her: “I f****** own you and don’t tolerate disobedience,” according to the Tribune.
The girl’s parents called the police when they saw some of the messages on her phone in July 2017.
She is seen crying in a five-minute video she was forced to record by Cottrell just days earlier, prosecutors said.
Federal authorities searched Cottrell’s home in Niles, Illinois, where he lived with his mother in June 2018. Cottrell has also known of the charges against him since then, according to his lawyer, Kenneth Yeadon.
Yeadon fought to keep him out of jail after his arrest on Friday, October 19, but a judge on Tuesday, October 23 ordered him held without bond pending trial. A status hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, November 6.
He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years if convicted.
Who Is David Cottrell?
David Cottrell is a former law student at New York University until 2017.
Yeadon described Cottrell as a lifelong resident of Niles except while attending the University of Wisconsin at Madison as an undergraduate and law school at NYU, the Tribune reported according to a court filing.
Yeadon said Cottrell left law school and returned to Niles in 2017 and had been taking classes to finish his degree while working at his father’s accounting practice in Park Ridge until he was taken into custody.