South Carolina representative proposes bill to fight sextortion after son's death




  • In US
  • 2022-12-26 20:05:55Z
  • By WSOC
 

A South Carolina state representative from York County is hoping to turn his personal pain into protection for other children.

Brandon Guffey's son was a victim of online sextortion and died by suicide shortly after.

FBI: Steep climb in teens targeted by online 'sextortion'

Guffey believes the crime is one reason for a spike in teen suicides in the state.

He spoke with Channel 9 reporter Ken Lemon about his mission to do something about this tragic trend.

Guffey said he could have kept quiet to protect his son's image, but he decided he would speak out to try to protect other children, especially considering the circumstances his family faced.

He said after his son was extorted and died by suicide, those same people or persons tried to extort other family members.

The freshman state representative was voted into office in November and already has a proposed bill.

"Nothing hits home like this," Guffey said. "This is personal. It's not political."

Last summer, his son, Gavin, was an 18-year-old high school graduate preparing for college.

"In my mind, he was the happiest I saw him," Guffey said.

He didn't know that someone pretending to be a girl online convinced Gavin to send nude pictures of himself.

That person or persons began extorting the son of a then-county councilman.

"Without my son being extorted, he wouldn't have (taken) his life," Guffey said.

Gavin died by suicide in July.

Guffey got a message on Instagram a month later with a question from the same perpetrator(s).

"'Did I tell you your son begged for his life,'" Guffey said. "(It had) a laughing face emoji."

Guffey said he wasn't the only one.

The offender tried to extort other young male relatives first.

The situation turned his mourning into motivation.

"I have a reason," Guffey said. "I have something to fight for and I'm going to continue to fight until my last breath."

Guffey shared his story during his last meeting as a county councilman and got a standing ovation.

He did the same thing on YouTube with an encouraging message for teens.

"Tomorrow needs you," he said.

RELATED: FBI issues warning about sextortion targeting teenage boys

Guffey introduced a proposal to the state House immediately after taking office in November.

"The biggest thing is getting the word out. I had no clue this existed," Guffey said.

He said it's organized crime that targets children and his plan aims to ban it in South Carolina.

On Tuesday, the FBI warned the public that sextortion of young men is on the rise.

VIDEO: Mother says teen son accused in Hough 'sextortion' case

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