Plantation man arrested on charges of extorting, harassing state Sen. Lauren Book

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Florida police have arrested 19-year-old Jeremy Kamperveen of Plantation on cyber stalking and extortion charges after he allegedly faked sexually explicit photos of state Sen. Lauren Book and threatened to distribute them to news media outlets.

Book, a Plantation Democrat who chairs the Senate Democratic Caucus, is a widely known advocate for victims of child abuse and sexual abuse.

According to the arrest report filed by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Book — whose name is redacted — complained to FDLE that she had received multiple text messages from an unknown number that included two photographs of the senator “with exposed breasts” and also threatened to “leak the photos to Fox and her career would be over.”

Kamperveen also allegedly texted sexually explicit photos that included female genitalia and the portrayal of a sexual act, and asked for $5,000 in gift cards in exchange for destroying the photos.

Book told agents that she recognized the pictures of her breasts as those “she had taken of herself and only shared with a close friend.”

Book alerted the FDLE on Friday, Nov. 12, and the agency launched an investigation in which it assumed her identity online and on her cellphone number in an attempt to apprehend the suspect.

Book, who was excused from voting during the special legislative session on COVID-19 mandates last month, attempted to keep a low profile as the investigation continued. Kamperveen was arrested Wednesday, Nov. 17, at a Sunrise Starbucks, the final day of the special legislative session. FDLE continued the investigation into possible accomplices, Book said in a statement on Thursday.

After a Miami television station obtained the police report, and the Broward Sheriff’s Department confirmed it involved Book, she released a statement.

“Three weeks ago, I became the victim of ongoing cyber threats, sexual harassment and extortion,’’ the statement read. “I immediately notified law enforcement and began working closely with them to track those responsible for sending threatening and disturbing images and messages to my phone, including distorted, fake and stolen images created in an effort to intimidate, threaten, and extort me.”

Undercover detective work

According to police, investigators assumed Book’s identity and began communicating with “the unknown person” on Nov. 13. The person asked her to take a selfie and send it and promised not to do anything with the photos “as long as you cooperate with me.”

The undercover agent asked what the person wanted in return, and he replied: “I am here because you turn me on. If you wish to pay money instead, then I can take that deal. I truly was only here for pictures and videos so I did not think about a reasonable cash reward. It would not be a small amount so take your choice.”

The person also allegedly commented that he was “in possession of explicit videos.”

According to the arrest report, when the undercover agent asked, “when will it end?” the reply was: “It will end once the money gets sent over.”

He then offered to “wipe all the photos and videos and block the number” in exchange for “some gift cards, call it a Christmas gift and I’m thinking around $5,000.”

When the agent attempted to negotiate the amount down, Kamperveen allegedly responded: “I need convincing. How about 3 and [oral sex]?”

The agent posing as Book offered $4,000 and an agreement to “erase everything in front of me.” The agent arranged for a face-to-face meeting at the Starbucks in Sunrise, where Kamperveen said he would be wearing a black hoodie and a durag.

FDLE agents arrested Kamperveen and said he later confessed to texting Book the explicit photos and asking for the $5,000 in cash. Kamperveen was released on $60,000 bond, with electronic monitoring and ordered to have no contact with the victim or access to the internet.

A record search showed Kamperveen, who lives in Book’s district and is a registered Democrat, does not have a criminal record.

“My family and I are most grateful to law enforcement for their swift action resulting in the apprehension of one suspect,’’ Book said in her statement. “However, the investigation is active and ongoing to ensure that other individuals that could be behind these serious criminal acts that are targeting me are apprehended and brought to justice.

Florida state Sen. Lauren Book
Florida state Sen. Lauren Book

“I want to thank my Senate family, Democratic Caucus, and the Senate president for maintaining my privacy and supporting me throughout this process. Law enforcement made clear they needed the investigation to remain private, and I invoked Marsy’s Law to protect my identity as a victim as provided in Florida’s Constitution.

“Sadly, the application of Marsy’s Law has weaknesses as the ongoing investigation was released and my identity was revealed. While I have dedicated my entire life to public service and have never shied away from speaking publicly about personal and private matters, I am now asking for the respect of privacy for myself, my family — including my two very young children — and for the safety of agents involved in this ongoing case.”

Passed in November 2020 by Florida voters, Marsy’s Law requires law enforcement to protect victims’ rights at all stages of a proceeding, including when they set bail or pretrial release and release the name of the victim during the prosecution.

This is not the first time Book has faced harassment and cyber stalking.

Book, who suffered sexual abuse by a nanny when she was a child, leads the advocacy group Lauren’s Kids.

In 2018, she obtained an injunction against Derek Logue, an outspoken critic of sex-offender laws, whom she accused of cyber stalking and harassment. A Broward County circuit judge issued an injunction that included a series of requirements designed to prevent Logue from having contact with the lawmaker or threatening her.

But Logue appealed to the Fourth District Court of Appeal, which ruled in a 2-1 decision in 2019 that the injunction violated his First Amendment rights. A footnote in the majority opinion said an Alabama court in 2001 convicted Logue of improper relations with a minor.

Miami Herald staff writer Charles Rabin contributed to this report.

Mary Ellen Klas can be reached at meklas@miamiherald.com and @MaryEllenKlas

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