Tempe man pleads not guilty in sex extortion case - CBS 5 - KPHO

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Tempe man pleads not guilty in sex extortion case

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Arash Shabazian was arrested Dec. 17 at his parents' Tempe home. (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office) Arash Shabazian was arrested Dec. 17 at his parents' Tempe home. (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
TEMPE, AZ (CBS5/AP) -

A Tempe man accused of trying to extort a 16-year-old girl and assault her if she didn't have sex with him has pleaded not guilty in the case.

Maricopa County prosecutors said Arash J. Shabazian, 18, entered his plea Monday.

Shabazian was arrested on suspicion of sexual exploitation of a minor and theft by extortion. Police said he tried to extort and threatened to assault a 16-year-old girl if she didn't have sex with him.

Shabazian was arrested on Dec. 17 on two felony counts of sexual exploitation of a minor and one felony count of theft by extortion for threatening to release nude photos of the victim.

Police said Shabazian created a false Facebook profile under the name Quam "Heron," according to a court document. On Nov. 17, he told the victim "Heron" was in possession of nude photos of her.

The victim then accepted a Facebook friend request from "Heron" and he told her he would delete the old photographs if the victim would send him new nude photographs to the cell phone of a friend, Aresh, according to the document.

Shabazian showed the victim his phone, which never contained the original photographs, leading her to believe they had been deleted, according to the document.

The victim reluctantly agreed, and sent him four new photographs, but "Heron" said he wasn't satisfied and told her she had to perform a sex act for him to delete the old ones, according to the document.

"Heron" also referenced himself as a gang member and threatened to assault her and distribute the nude photos to other students at her school if she told anyone.

The victim reported the incident to her school resource officer the next day, according to the document.

Tempe investigators later determined Shabazian had created the Facebook account and was posing as "Heron."

Police said they also found the photos of the victim that Shabazian had renamed and emailed to himself.

He was arrested at his parents house and booked into the Tempe City .

Copyright 2014 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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