Women call out Staten Island cyber stalker for revenge porn

Jun 13, 2021
Women call out Staten Island cyber stalker for revenge porn

After a disastrous tryst, Rachel thought she’d heard the last of a man she met online. Then the phone calls started.

“The first 25 messages begged me to reconsider,” said the now 50-year-old whose last name has been withheld by The Post to protect her from retaliation. “The next 25 messages cursed me out.”

She didn’t know it at the time, but the unhinged rants were the beginning of a vicious online smear campaign.

Over the course of 16 years, Rachel told The Post, the man, Jason Christopher Hughes, allegedly sent revenge porn to her colleagues, made stomach-churning death threats and set the cops on her for a crime she didn’t commit.

At the same time, the Staten Island sicko — who pled guilty to cyber harassment last October for tormenting two unnamed women, one of whom was his childhood pen pal — was reportedly targeting at least 50 others, sending them obscene references to cannibalism, kinky sex and the occult. Their only mistake? Randomly crossing paths with Hughes, now 50, on the internet, two of his alleged victims told The Post.

The stalker’s insidious methods are exposed in a new Apple podcast, “Unraveled: The Stalker’s Web,” with a follow-up Discovery+ documentary to be released Aug. 10. In the six-episode recording, investigative journalist and co-host Alexis Linkletter brands him as “a psychological terrorist” able to “turn dozens of lives upside down by the damage he caused.”

A shot of Jason Christopher Hughes using a computer.
More alleged victims have emerged since Jason Christopher Hughes of Staten Island was convicted of cyber harassment in November 2019.
Discovery+

Rachel, who worked in tech, was experiencing a difficult breakup when she says she first encountered Hughes in 2001 on the early blogging platform, Live Journal. The couple, then both 30, flirted via direct message before Rachel agreed to fly from her home in Austin, Texas, for an assignation in Seattle, Washington.

The two had sex shortly after meeting. Minutes later, she says Hughes reached for his camera to snap some nude photos. “I didn’t object, because I didn’t want to make a fuss,” Rachel recalled.

But the weekend imploded when Hughes’ behavior became erratic, she said. An engine noise in the street triggered his deafening screams. Two-way conversations were impossible as he spouted monologues professing his undying love.

It was humiliating and devastating. I made one poor romantic choice, but Jason wanted to destroy my reputation and make me lose my job.

Rachel

Spooked, she sneaked out in the middle of the night and escaped to the airport to fly home.

“I wrote a simple email saying I no longer wanted any contact,” said Rachel.

Hughes took the rejection hard. His bitter response was allegedly to send the naked pictures he had taken of Rachel to her boss, co-workers, estranged husband and father. Twisting the knife, he included an emotionally raw email she’d written him about her failed marriage.

“It was humiliating and devastating,” she recalled. “I made one poor romantic choice, but Jason wanted to destroy my reputation and make me lose my job.”

The self-employed keyboard troll, who worked on his home computer trading rare and unusual books, succeeded in at least part of his mission. Although Rachel couldn’t prove that the cyber threats were the cause, she was laid off a few months later.


Hughes allegedly tormented Rachel for a decade and a half, setting up hundreds of accounts he used to trash her in the digital space and left diabolical comments wherever she surfaced.

Eight years ago, once she had remarried and had a baby, she says Hughes appeared like a ghastly whack-a-mole in her online support group for new moms.

Around the same time, Rachel received an email with a creepy poem he’d composed with the title “How To Make Your Own Pet Owl.” It began with the line: “Take one human, smash the arms, legs [and] knees with a sledgehammer.” It concluded: “Keep the owl on constant multiple antibiotics and switch those up so skin sepsis doesn’t set in.”

The FBI later found that the demented ditty was dispatched to other victims via email as well.

Although she wasn’t a recipient of the owl poem, Las Vegas resident Vanessa, who asked for her last name not to be published for fear of Hughes, was profoundly disturbed by the messages she received. The legal secretary says she chatted briefly with Hughes on Live Journal — only to be bombarded by unpalatable images from his homemade porn collection. When she objected to continuing the conversation, he allegedly threatened to blast her family with a .22.

“It was like dealing with a monster living in the woods,” Vanessa, 40, said. “You never knew when he was going to come crashing out to get you.”

Jason Christopher Hughes
Jason Christopher Hughes’ behavior is brought to light in a podcast and Discovery+ doc, “Unraveled: The Stalker’s Web,.”
Vanessa VanAlstyne

Next, she claims, Hughes flooded her co-workers with vitriolic emails. “My boss told me that, if I wanted to keep my job, I had to make it stop,” recalled Vanessa. She couldn’t — and was fired.

As for Rachel, she suffered a fright during her 2014 maternity leave when a fire marshal showed up at her door with the cops. Hughes’ car had been torched the previous night. Laughably, the new mom topped a list of potential arsonists Hughes provided to the police. The officers dismissed the malicious lead. “I showed them the documentation about my history with Jason,” Rachel said. Nobody was apprehended for the blaze.

Both Vanessa and Rachel reported Hughes’ behavior to police in their home states. The women claim they were often stymied by a game of hot potato in which each jurisdiction kept passing the spud, citing ill-defined laws relating to cyberstalking at both the state and federal levels. Matters were further complicated by Hughes’ decision to operate across state lines.

But even though their plights went unsolved, Hughes’ gruesome behavior soon came to light.

In 2015, 20 years after he had stopped pestering a pen pal he had known since fourth grade, he emailed her again. This time, his threats were directed towards young children at the school where she worked. “Consider yourself very lucky that I don’t dare bring Darkness right to your classroom or front door,” read one message, later revealed in a federal criminal complaint. Another said: “I laugh when [a child] is abducted or falls under a train or is eaten by wild dogs.”

The hellish game was up. FBI agents traced the loser’s IP address. They raided a home on Crescent Avenue in Staten Island, where he has since been living under house arrest with his wife and in-laws.

The case dragged on for four years, but Hughes — who has since changed his name to Raymond Johnson — pleaded guilty last fall to violating interstate communication laws. Sentencing will take place in August.

Though it’s not her word that will put him away, Rachel concluded, “I would like him to see the inside of a jail cell.”

Meanwhile Vanessa hopes Hughes seeks treatment. “He clearly needs help,” she told The Post, bleakly noting that his behavior points to addiction. “He’s like a nasty toilet stain which, no matter how hard you scrub, just keeps on coming back.”

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