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SALT LAKE CITY — A man who allegedly paid thousands of dollars to girls across Utah to send him nude photographs has been arrested by the Utah Attorney General's Office.
Jesse Knight, 36, of West Jordan, was arrested Wednesday for investigation of nine counts of human trafficking of a child, 10 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, dealing in harmful materials to a minor, and three counts of enticing a minor.
The investigation began a year ago when agents with the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force learned of two teen girls being paid to send nude photos of themselves, according to a police booking affidavit. One girl was paid extra money for taking pictures of a toddler, the affidavit states.
"Pursuant to search warrants to the social media and payment companies, the suspect who was paying the teenage girls was identified as Jesse Neal Knight," according to the affidavit.
After serving several more search warrants, investigators learned that Knight "offered to pay over 200 underage girls for nude photos. Several underage girls throughout the state of Utah were positively identified as receiving money from Knight for nude photos," the affidavit states. "Knight did not have an exact number of the amount of underage girls he has paid. After a review of Knight's social media and payment accounts, it is estimated he has paid approximately 27 underage girls for nude photos."
Police say Knight used Snapchat and other social media apps, and was communicating with underage girls as recently as Wednesday before being arrested.
The investigation further revealed that Knight had allegedly paid about $30,000 over three years to girls for pictures, including one girl whom he paid $5,000 for her photos, according to the affidavit. He also paid to receive photos of a 3-year-old child, the affidavit states.
Knight is also accused of sending some girls pictures of his own genitals and telling them he wanted to meet the girls in person for the purpose of having sex, according to the affidavit. Knight claimed he never actually met any of the girls.
Police have requested that Knight be held in the Salt Lake County Jail on no bail pending the filing of formal charges.
"The Utah Attorney General's Office has reason to believe there are numerous victims involved with this investigation that has not yet been identified," the department said in a prepared statement. Anyone who believes they have been victimized by Knight can contact investigators at 801-281-1200.