A San Diego-based Navy officer with more than 30 years’ service is charged with stalking a woman online by setting up fake social media accounts under her name and posting sexually explicit photos and video to one of them.
Capt. Theodore Essenfeld, 51, was arraigned Monday in federal court on a charge of cyberstalking, according to a statement issued the same day by the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California.
If convicted, Essenfeld, of Chula Vista, Calif., faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
“The indictment alleges a disturbing campaign of betrayed trust, harassment and intimidation,” U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman said in the statement.
Prosecutors say that over 18 months, he created fake Facebook, LinkedIn, email and cellphone accounts under the civilian woman’s name without her knowledge or consent.
Erotic photos and videos of the woman that she had privately shared with him were posted to the fake Facebook account, according to the statement.
Essenfeld also is accused of using the fictitious account to connect with Facebook’s dating services to make it appear that the woman was seeking dates, according to the statement.
On the phony LinkedIn account, he advertised her as a professional pole dancer, prosecutors say.
A LinkedIn page under Essenfeld’s name says he has served in the Navy since 1990, entering as an enlisted sailor and eventually becoming an officer.
During that time, he served as commander of two warships and was experimentation branch chief for North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, and U.S. Northern Command in Colorado Springs, Colo., from March 2020 to February 2022, according to biographical information on the page.