A former Boy Scout summer camp leader in Columbia and Hannibal faces federal charges of using a fake Facebook identity to trick seven underage victims into sharing nude photos they thought were sought by a woman.
A federal grand jury in Jefferson City indicted 23-year-old Ian Francis Burow, of Columbia, with seven counts of receiving and distributing sexually explicit material involving a minor. Those charges involve six different victims and cover a period from December 2010 to August 2011. Another charge of producing child pornography on Oct. 14, 2011, involves a seventh minor.
The sealed indictment was made public after Burow appeared in court Tuesday. A judge ordered Thursday that Burow remain held without bond until his scheduled trial in February. If convicted of the pornography production charge, he would face a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison. The other charges carry five-year minimum sentences, without parole.
Burow’s attorney, Chris Slusher of Columbia, said his client has pleaded not guilty and voluntarily surrendered on the federal charges, which were anticipated.
The Boone County Sheriff’s Office arrested Burow in March in response to a complaint by the Boy Scouts of America that Burow had contacted “numerous underage” Scouts, between the ages of 14 and 17, using the Facebook alias “Sarah McGee.” The federal indictment said he also created fake online accounts with Yahoo and Skype.
In a two-page statement outlining the reasons for not releasing Burow pending trial, U.S. Magistrate Judge Matt Whitworth said the suspect “allegedly attempted to blackmail one of the minor victims into sending him more nude photographs” by threatening to send the victim’s previous nude photos to the victim’s friends. The statement also said Burow allegedly molested a 13-year-old male when he was 17, and sought nude photos from a total of 14 Scouts.
Boone County investigators said Burow had used the fake Facebook identity for at least a year, and sought his victims’ cooperation by offering nude photos of a girl he claimed was McGee. State criminal charges of sexual exploitation of a minor and promoting sexual performance by a child remain pending.
Boone investigators said Burow’s victims came from across the state. The federal indictment includes a lengthy list of computer equipment and other evidence seized form Burow, including a laptop computer, smart phones, an iPad, DVDs, Boy Scout documents and a personal journal.
A 2011-12 campus telephone directory listed Burow as a University of Missouri senior at the time. University registrar Brenda Selman said Burow did not graduate with his senior class.