Baltic sexual assault charges shed light on alarming trend
The Baltic High School student charged with sending other students lewd and threatening text messages now faces more charges.
18-year-old Nicholas Schmidt was arrested Wednesday on rape and child pornography charges.
A 16-year-old girl came forward alleging that Schmidt coerced her into sending him nude pictures starting when she was 15 and then used those pictures to blackmail her into performing sexual acts.
Advocates say these kind of actions are part of a growing and disturbing trend.
“No, we have not had to deal with anything like this to this extent in the past,” Baltic Superintendent Bob Sittig said.
This situation is a first of its kind for the Baltic School District.
Sittig wouldn't comment on the case directly, but says the district has a policy about cyber bullying and sexual harassment.
“If we think it's necessary then we're going to report it onto law enforcement,” he stated.
But the district doesn't have a written policy on how to deal with a student charged with sexual assault walking the halls with kids who could be their victim.
“We will follow anything that the courts tell us we have to do,” he said.
Sittig says it's a priority to make the victim feel safe.
“First of all we would tell the alleged perpetrator that they have to be careful not to do anything that would appear to be a retaliation for the person making the report. And then we'd tell the person who made the report that they need to report it if there is any retaliation,” he explained.
Compass Center executive director Michelle Markgraf says sextortion is an alarming trend.
“It's becoming more and more prevalent. Some of it is just because the internet is exploding with so many more apps that people can use,” Markgraf explained.
“It's a cultural norm unfortunately, it's happening at a younger and younger age,” she said.
According to court documents, from April 2016 to May 2017 the victim sent Schmidt hundreds of nude photos.
Getting a teen to report that someone is blackmailing them with naked pictures can be extremely difficult.
“It's really tough for that teen to have that conversation. I did something that I shouldn’t have done, or I did something that I regret, and now I’m in danger from this person because I did it,” she elaborated.
Markgraf says one of the best ways to get teens to open up about these kinds of situations is to make them feel comfortable talking to you. She says letting them know if they come to you with a problem, and feel that they could be in danger, they will not be judged, can make a big difference.
Schmidt's bond was set at $10, 000 cash during his initial court appearance. He's also been ordered to have no contact with the victim and not to use any electronic devices.
The court documents also say Schmidt picked the victim up and took her to a rural area. He told her if she didn’t perform sexual acts he would leave her there.
The documents also say Schmidt came to the victim’s home once and tried to have sex with the victim when her parents weren’t home.