Man accused of grooming girls and encouraging self-harm for sexual gratification

Project Safe Childhood is a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice.

Los Angeles, California: A former Redondo Beach, California resident made his first appearance in federal court on Tuesday, February 22, 2022 and entered a plea of not guilty to eight counts related to the sexual exploitation of three children.

 

The statement released by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Central District of California through the Department of Justice's Project Safe Childhood did not give information on when the crimes are alleged to have occurred.

 

According to the information that they did release though, 31-year-old Matthew Christian Locher has been accused of targeting young girls through the use of Discord and then enticing "them to engage in masochistic abuse for his sexual gratification."

 

Locher has been charged with sexual exploitation and attempted sexual exploitation of a child for the purpose of producing a sexually explicit visual depiction, enticement and attempted enticement of a minor to engage in criminal sexual activity and receipt of child pornography.

 

Citing court documents and statements made in court, Locher would seek targets that were dealing with "mental health issues, including depression, suicidal thoughts, and anorexia." Throughout the course of Locher's manipulation, he made comments about the girls becoming his "slave" or "pet."

 

The indictment outlines how Locher contacted two victims online and enticed them to send images and videos of themselves engaging in self-harm including cutting their breasts.

 

One girl, identified only as a 12-year-old girl from Ohio, had been encouraged to set fire to her residence in an attempt to kill her parents before running away to California "to engage in illegal sexual activity with Locher."

 

Locher was arrested in Indianapolis, Indiana on January 10. After a search warrant was excited at his residence in California, Locher moved to Indiana over the summer.

 

The trial is scheduled to begin on April 19, 2022 and if convicted, Locher faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years if convicted on solely the enticement and attempt to entice charges. Should he be convicted on all charges, he faces the possibility of life in prison.