A former resident of Redondo Beach pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of targeting young girls online, encouraging them to engage in self-harm and even trying to convince one girl to kill her parents.
Matthew Christian Locher, 31, pleaded guilty to one count of sexual exploitation of a child “for the purpose of producing a sexually explicit visual depiction,” the United States Department of Justice announced Monday.
As part of his plea, Locher admitted to targeting girls suffering mental health issues, including depression, suicidal thoughts and eating disorders and enticing them to engage in harmful behavior for his own sexual gratification.
The abuse happened between November 2020 and May 2021, the DOJ said.
Locher spoke with multiple underage girls online and encouraged them to self-mutilate.
He made two young girls send him images and videos of themselves cutting their bodies, including their breasts, with razor blades.
He instructed one girl who had an eating disorder to starve herself and ordered her to cut herself and film it whenever she “disobeyed” him.
He also admitted to encouraging one victim, a 12-year-old girl in Ohio, to run away from home to California to have sex with him. He specifically told the girl to kill her parents, at which point he would pick her up and bring her to California to make her his “slave,” the DOJ said.
After his instructions, the girl set fire to her family’s home in an unsuccessful attempt to kill her parents.
Authorities eventually served a search warrant at Locher’s home, which led to him abruptly relocating to Indiana in the summer of 2021. He was arrested in Indianapolis in January and extradited to California where he has remained in federal custody since, officials said.
Locher is due back in court next January for his sentencing where he faces a mandatory minimum of 15 years in prison with a max sentence of 30 years.
The case was investigated by the Los Angeles Police Department, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and other local law enforcement agencies where the victims were located.