INDIANAPOLIS (WXIN) — A former California man who was arrested in Indiana last year was sentenced to nearly three decades in federal prison for a child exploitation case.

Matthew Christian Locher, 32, convinced girls as young as 12 to harm themselves and tried to entice one to become his sex slave. He pleaded guilty in August 2022 to one count of sexual exploitation of a child for the purpose of producing a sexually explicit visual depiction.

U.S. District Judge Dolly M. Gee called Locher a “parent’s worst nightmare” and described his actions as “monstrous” during his hearing Tuesday. Gee sentenced him to 27 years in federal prison and ordered him to pay more than $25,000 in restitution. Upon completion of his sentence, he’ll be on lifetime supervised release.

From November 2020 to May 2021, federal prosecutors said Locher targeted girls who suffered from mental health issues including depression, suicidal thoughts and eating disorders. He encouraged the girls to engage in self-mutilation and told one victim struggling with an eating disorder to starve herself. When she disobeyed him, he ordered the girl to film herself cutting her body.

Locher compelled two of the minors to send him videos and images of them committing acts of self-harm.

He convinced another girl that she should kill her parents and leave her home in Ohio so she could join him in California to become his sex “slave” or “pet.” The 12-year-old girl set fire to her home in an unsuccessful attempt to kill her parents and set off for California.

After federal authorities executed a search warrant at his California home, Locher moved to Indiana in the summer of 2021. He was arrested in Indianapolis in 2022 and taken back to California. He has remained in federal custody ever since.

The wide-ranging investigation into the case involved the Federal Bureau of Investigation along with police departments in California, Ohio, New York and Tennessee.