What's said to have been the biggest child-pornography production case in Minnesota history ended Tuesday in a St. Paul courtroom, and two of the victims faced down their tormenter there. "We all can now be given freedom from this," one of the unnamed victims, now a young man, said after Anton Martynenko, 32, was sentenced to 38 years in prison for what the Minneapolis Star Tribune calls a "massive sextortion scheme." How that scheme worked: Martynenko would set up fake online profiles (often as teen girls) to lure teen boys into sending him nude pics, which he'd then post online. All told, he tricked more than 155 boys, mainly between 14 and 16, in multiple states, KMSP reports. Martynenko, who pleaded guilty in January, "delighted in the humiliation, embarrassment, and potential negative consequences his actions caused his victims," prosecutors said, per court docs.
Once Martynenko had the boys' photos, he'd threaten to post the pics online, and he'd often follow through. He also managed to persuade three boys into committing sexual acts on him, and two of his victims ended up killing themselves. One of the victims who appeared in court, now 21, said "my life has become a living hell" from the experience, while the other, who's around 19, noted Martynenko was "a terrible human being who spent years of his life making hundreds of teen boys miserable." Side note: Martynenko had two years lopped off his sentence for helping investigators on the Jacob Wetterling case. He'd shared a jail cell with Danny Heinrich, Jacob's killer, at one point and had apparently procured information. (The break in the Wetterling case came in September after 27 years.)