DOCUMENT: Internet, Sex, Crime

Texas A&M Suicide Linked To Extortion Plot

Louisiana man blackmailed professor in online scheme

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Texas A&M Professor Suicide

MARCH 26--A Louisiana man has been charged with extortion in an online sex-with-a-minor scheme that resulted in the suicide of a Texas A&M University professor.

Daniel Duplaisir, 37, was scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Houston today to be arraigned for using the Internet and a cellular telephone to blackmail 59-year-old Dr. James Aune, who jumped off the roof of a campus building January 8, shortly after texting his alleged extorter: “Killing myself now And u will be prosecuted for black mail.”

The plot, which was uncovered during the investigation of Aune’s suicide, is detailed in a chilling affidavit sworn out by FBI Special Agent Nikki Allen.

The day after the death of Aune--who was chair of the communications department at Texas A&M--his wife told investigators she became aware that her husband “had become involved in sexually explicit chat with someone he met online, who was a minor, and now he was being extorted by the minor’s father.” The chat appears to have included naked pictures of the professor, who is pictured above.

Prosecutors allege that the “minor” Aune met on the Internet was actually Duplaisir, a Metairie man with a history of luring men online for blackmail. According to his daughter--who was a victim in a 2011 sexual battery at the hands of her father-- Duplaisir used her pictures and videos  “to scam men.” The daughter said they created a site on MocoSpace where they would reel in victims and “then Daniel would call them and say how she was his daughter and how she would need counseling and they had to pay for it.”

The plot appears to have paid off for Duplaisir until the tragic unraveling of the “relationship” between Aune and “Karen Mccall,” the fictitious girl with whom the professor had connected. Investigators were able to confirm several payments sent from Aune to Duplaisir, but the blackmailer--playing the role of the incensed father of "Karen"--appears to have upped the ante, asking for a $5000 payment earlier this year.

A series of e-mails and texts record Aune's desperate attempts to negotiate a deal with Duplaisir in the hours leading up to the professor's leap from the campus rooftop. About two hours before the suicide, Duplaisir, pictured at left, wrote to Aune, “If I do not hear from you I swear to God Almighty that the police, your place of employment, students, ALL OVER THE INTERNET …ALL OF THEM will be able to see your conversations, texts, pictures you sent.”

Two hours later, Aune responded with “Killing myself now And u will be prosecuted for black mail.” It took a few months for the second part of the professor’s message to come true. (8 pages)