Woman blackmailed into assaulting young child pleads guilty

January 16, 2020 GMT

PITTSFIELD, Mass. (AP) — A Massachusetts woman who was blackmailed into sexually assaulting an 18-month-old child in her care pleaded guilty, officials said.

Erica Emerling, 31, of Pittsfield, pleaded guilty Tuesday to indecent assault and battery on a child under 14 and reckless endangerment of a child, The Berkshire Eagle reported.

Emerling had an online relationship with a man named Gary Montana, of Hudson, New York, according to Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Joseph Yorlano. Montana threatened to distribute explicit photos of Emerling unless she performed sexual acts on the child, which he recorded in January 2018, authorities said.

Montana was sentenced to up to 18 years in prison in December after pleading guilty to charges including exhibiting a child in a state of nudity or sexual contact.

Emerling’s sentencing is expected to take place in February after she undergoes a court-ordered mental health evaluation. The state is considering a sentence of 2 1/2 years in jail followed by a period of probation.