CONCORD, N.H. (WPRI) — A former commercial airline pilot from Seekonk has been ordered into federal custody after prosecutors say he violated the conditions of his release by looking up a woman on LinkedIn despite an order to stay away from her.
David Ackell, 51, of Seekonk, was immediately taken into custody by U.S. Marshals after a hearing Wednesday at federal court in Concord, New Hampshire. Moments after the hearing, Ackell appeared to become faint, and the Concord Fire Department was called for a medical evaluation. Rescue personnel said they did not transport Ackell to the hospital.
It is unclear what prison Ackell was taken to. Emails to his attorney, William Christie, were not returned.
In December 2016 a federal jury convicted Ackell of one count of stalking. Investigators said he threatened to send explicit photos of a teenage girl to her friend list on her Instagram account if she didn’t do what he wanted. The victim – who was 16 when she first made contact with Ackell – was from New Hampshire.
Ackell was sentenced to 33 months in federal prison, but his punishment was put on hold until his appeal was heard by the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The appellate court upheld the conviction in November, but Ackell has since asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the ruling, arguing the federal stalking statute violates the First Amendment.
On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Joseph Laplante determined Ackell had violated the conditions of his release by using LinkedIn to look up a woman he was ordered to stay away from. Court documents show the woman — who lives in Canada and had previous contact with Ackell, but was not the victim in the New Hampshire case — was notified by the social media site that Ackell had looked her up.
In addition, Ackell had been forbidden from using the internet unless it was for work.
When questioned by FBI agents, Ackell admitted to looking up the victim on the networking website but “claimed he did not know it was illegal to view her account, and stated that he has not tried to reach out to her in any other format.”
New Hampshire Assistant U.S. Attorney Seth Aframe told Target 12 he thought the judge made the correct ruling because “Mr. Ackell made indirect contact with someone that he was expressly precluded to make contact with.”
It is unclear if the U.S. Supreme Court will take up Ackell’s appeal.
As Target 12 has previously reported, federal prosecutors said Ackell met the New Hampshire teenager online in 2012. He promised her he would not save any explicit images she sent to him. When the victim turned 18, she informed Ackell that she wanted to end the relationship.
“Ackell prevented this from happening by, among other things, threatening to send the victim’s photographs to her family and friends,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office previously said in a statement. “He also told the victim that if she ended their relationship, a 14-year-old girl would be raped.”
According to court files obtained by Target 12, “the conversations became more sexually graphic” and the girl told him she was “uncomfortable and did not want to continue to send photos of herself or speak in a sexual manner.”
“Ackell replied that she was his ‘slave,'” prosecutors say.
At one point the girl told investigators she became depressed and suicidal.