Snapchat attacks continue unabated

Anyone who has followed the Delphi murder case and is familiar with the Kegan Kline police interview transcript might understandably wonder what the hell is going on with these social media messaging apps.  According to media outlets, Snapchat and Kik were the preferred avenues for Kegan Kline to connect with underage victims and solicit illegal images.  Well, it turns out Kline is not the only predator who has had success utilizing these platforms to victimize children.  In fact, the modus operandi is so common in the State of Indiana alone, that one wonders if there isn’t a playbook these criminal deviants follow.

A June press release from the Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Indiana offers up two such graduates of the Snapchat and Kik school of child exploitation and victimization.  The June 17, 2022 release titled Two Predators Sentenced to Federal Prison for Sexually Exploiting Four Children They met on Social Media Platforms reads in part:

“INDIANAPOLIS – Thomas James Israel, 46, of Ft. Wayne, and Max Schafer, 31, of Brownsburg, were each sentenced to federal prison for their role in exploiting four children between October 2019 and August 2020. One of the victims was exploited by both Israel and Schafer during separate incidents. Israel previously pleaded guilty to sexual exploitation of a child and distribution of child sexual abuse material. On November 15, 2021, Chief Judge Tanya Walton Pratt sentenced Israel to twenty-five years in federal prison. Late yesterday, Schafer pleaded guilty to receipt of visual depictions of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct and possession of child sexual abuse material. District Judge James R. Sweeney II sentenced Schafer to over fourteen years (175 months) in federal prison.

“According to court documents, between April 2020 and June 2020, Israel met his first minor victim, who was 14, using online applications such as Omegle and Meetme. Using Snapchat and Kik, Israel persuaded this victim to meet with him in person, then forced the victim into sadomasochistic sexual abuse, including forceful oral sex and assault. Israel recorded the sexual abuse on his mobile phone and later sent the video to the victim.

“Israel met a second minor victim using Snapchat and persuaded the victim to send him explicit videos and photos of herself. When this victim was between 14 and 16 years old, she sent her minor boyfriend sexually explicit images and videos of herself. Without her consent, the boyfriend disseminated the images and videos over the internet. Israel downloaded those images and videos onto his online storage account and viewed them for a sexual purpose. 

“Israel met his third minor victim, who was between 14 and 16 years’ old, over Omegle. Knowing that the victim suffered from mental health issues, Israel induced her to produce child sex abuse material, and to sell the images and videos to others online. Israel took a percentage of the fees and paid the victim by sending her gift cards from Victoria’s Secret.

“According to court documents, Schafer also met Israel’s first minor victim using Omegle. Knowing that the minor victim was only fourteen years old, Schafer met and engaged in sexually explicit conduct with the victim. Schafer also persuaded the victim to send him the video that Israel produced, depicting Israel’s violent sexual abuse of the child.

“Schafer also met his second minor victim, who was 16, using Omegle and Snapchat. Schafer persuaded this girl to send him sexually explicit images and videos of herself for his sexual purpose.

“Zachary A. Myers, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana and Herbert J. Stapleton, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Indianapolis Field Office made the announcement.

“The FBI Violent Crime Task Force investigated the case. The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department also provided valuable assistance. As part of Israel’s sentence, Judge Pratt ordered that he be supervised by the U.S. Probation Office for life following his release from prison and pay $16,000 in restitution to the victims. As part of Schafer’s sentence, Judge Sweeney ordered that he be supervised by the U.S. Probation Office for 40 years following his release from prison and pay $6,000 in restitution to the victims. Both Israel and Schafer must also register as sex offenders wherever they live, work, or go to school, as required by law.”

Here again, we have yet another example of the social media apps Snapchat and Kik facilitating a connection between predators and their victims for the purpose of exploitation and abuse.  As we saw with Kegan Kline, who quite openly and brazenly attempted to victimize children using the online profile Emily Anne 45, often the profile ruse is dropped while the predator looks for a reaction to suggestions of sexual activity between the minor and a much older adult.  In one interaction, Kline solicits images and information on behalf of his middle-aged father, which eventually leads to a Skype call taking place.  How is it that these messaging apps, for all their sophistication, allow these clearly illegal conversations to slip by without any red flags going up?

The cases of Israel and Schafer provide a further glimpse into the despicable world these predators inhabit and may even indicate a level of coordination between them.  Israel is using the social media apps Snapchat and Kik to solicit sexual abuse material and arrange meetings to inflict violent abuse and produce CSAM.  He appears to possess an extensive knowledge of ways to choose the most vulnerable and inflict his sadistic abuse on them for pleasure and profit.  For his part, Schafer is abusing at least one of the same victims as Israel, and he’s aware of the video Israel produced with that victim.  

It is difficult to discern with certainty from the press release, but is it the case that these predators are communicating and coordinating with one another on some level?  Are they “sharing” victims?  Israel targets a teen who has already been victimized by her boyfriend.  Schafer targets one of Israel’s victims.  It certainly appears that, at least at some level, these predators are loosely associated.  It is more than just the case that they are swimming in the same waters, but that they are exchanging victims and probably even exchanging information on how to exploit the vulnerabilities of these victims.  Israel produced a video that was in demand.  He also coerced one of his victims to make videos to sell for his monetary benefit.  Obviously, there is a market for these videos.  We know these predators exchange videos, but are they also exchanging information with designs on inflicting abuse?  Could Kegan Kline, as seemingly “a member in good standing” in one of these pedophile circles, have passed on information to a member with extremely violent intentions, who turned around and used that knowledge to carry out his twisted fantasies on two innocent children of Delphi.  It appears increasingly likely.

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