The teenager who says she was a sextortion victim in Clatskanie appeared on NBC’s “Today” show Thursday, giving the story national exposure.
Josi Harrison and her parents have filed a $2.5 million lawsuit against five Clatskanie minors and their parents alleging Josi was coerced into sending nude photos of herself to several boys and also was physically bullied, including an attempted rape. Josi, now 15, was 12 when she says the sextortion started. She and her lawyer, Amber Lunsford, say they’ve uncovered evidence Josi was part of a widespread sextortion ring that involved as many as 28 girls and 15 boys. They say the stress lead to heart condition and surgery for Josi and forced her family to move out of Clatskanie.
Thursday, Josi’s case was Today’s “Cover Story” and included taped footage of interviews with both Josi and her mother Annie Harrison. It was headlined “Sextortion Scare” and included advice for parents to talk to their kids because many children won’t come forward even when victimized.
The show also included comments from Steven Sherlag, a lawyer representing one of the boys named in the lawsuit, who said there’s another side to the story. He said the Harrisons were playing “the victim card.” He also said that just because something is alleged in a lawsuit doesn’t mean it’s true or the whole story.
Sherlag and other lawyers sought a gag order to block any further publicly in the case, but that motion was denied last month.
The Harrisons say they also plan to file a federal lawsuit against the Clatskanie School District, claiming officials didn’t do enough to protect Josi and two other girls. Thursday, Lunsford said work is proceeding on the second lawsuit but is more complicated now that two other girls have joined the case.