Calif. Man Wanted a Picture for His 'Eyes Only' from 15-Year-Old. He Was Just Sentenced to 11 Years in Prison

Paul Joseph Espinosa believed he was messaging a teen girl. She was actually an undercover federal agent

<p>Fresno County Sheriff

Fresno County Sheriff's Office

Paul Joseph Espinosa

A California man was sentenced to over a decade in prison after he messaged an undercover federal agent he believed was a 15-year-old girl, asking her for sexually explicit photos for his “eyes only.”

Paul Joseph Espinosa, 56, of Clovis, pleaded guilty to attempted online coercion of a minor in September after a 2021 sting operation that led to his arrest, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California said.

In May 2021, Espinosa messaged an Instagram account controlled by the undercover agent, who told him she was 15 years old, according to a federal complaint reviewed by PEOPLE. Despite knowing her purported age, Espinosa continued to message her, eventually asking for a nude photo, the complaint states.

Authorities said Espinosa also sent the undercover agent naked photos of other women as part of that conversation.

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Espinosa also told the agent he wanted to “cuddle” and hoped that they could spend at least a night together. In Instagram audio calls, Espinosa made references to being naked and repeatedly asked her to meet him in person, according to the complaint.

On June 26, 2021, Espinosa traveled to Fresno to meet the would-be victim to “engage in various forms of sexual activity, ” prosecutors said.

Espinosa was arrested and pleaded guilty two years later, on Sept. 25, 2023. On Monday, he was sentenced to 11 years in prison, which will be followed by another 10 years of supervised release, prosecutors said.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual abuse, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.

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Read the original article on People.