#parent | #kids | 2 Indiana men sentenced for using social media to sexually exploit teens

INDIANAPOLIS – Two Indiana men preyed upon teens, using chat and social media programs to induce them into sex or send them explicit videos and photos.

Now the men, described as “predators” by prosecutors, will spend years in federal prison.

Thomas James Israel, 46, of Ft. Wayne, and Max Schafer, 31, of Brownsburg, used apps like Snapchat, Meetme, Kik and Omegle to target minors. They then engaged in sex acts, solicited photos and videos and disseminated the material over the internet, federal prosecutors said.

U.S. District Judge James R. Sweeney II sentenced Schafer to more than 14 years in prison this week. He had pleaded guilty to receipt of visual depictions of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct and possession of child sexual abuse material.

Israel, who’d previously pleaded guilty to sexual exploitation of a child and distribution of child sexual abuse material, was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison in November 2021.

According to court documents, between April 2020 and June 2020, Israel met a 14-year-old online and persuaded the victim to meet in person. The two then engaged in “sadomasochistic sexual abuse,” including forced sex acts and assault. Israel recorded the abuse on his phone and later sent it to the victim.

Israel met a second minor on Snapchat and persuaded her to send him explicit videos and photos. The girl had sent her boyfriend explicit images that had been disseminated without her consent. Israel downloaded the material into an online storage account and “viewed them for a sexual purpose,” investigators said.

Israel met a third victim when she was between the ages of 14 and 16. He was aware she had mental health issues, prosecutors said, and convinced her to produce child sex abuse material and sell it online. Israel took a percentage of the fees and paid the girl in gift cards from Victoria’s Secret.

Schafer encountered Israel’s first victim on Omegle, a chat platform. Even though he knew the victim was 14, he engaged in sexually explicit conduct with the teen. He also convinced the victim to send him the violent sex abuse video Israel had previously recorded.

Schafer convinced another 16-year-old girl to send him sexually explicit videos and images, federal prosecutors said. He interacted with the teen on Omegle and Snapchat.

The FBI Violent Crime Task Force investigated the case and received key assistance from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.

In addition to his prison sentence, Israel was ordered to pay $16,000 in restitution to the victims and will be on lifetime supervised probation upon his release. Schafer was ordered to pay $6,000 in restitution and was also given 40 years of supervised probation.

Both men will also have to register as sex offenders.

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