By Shereen Siewert
WAUSAU — A 29-year-old Wausau man is facing multiple criminal charges after a former girlfriend reported he circulated nude images of her on social media and repeatedly threatened to release additional photos, court documents show.
Michael Hake appeared Wednesday in Marathon County Circuit Court, where he faces misdemeanor charges of posting or publishing photos without the owner’s consent and unlawful use of a computerized communication system with intent to threaten. Hake also faces three felony counts of bail jumping connected to a 2014 case in which he was under a deferred prosecution agreement.
The alleged victim called police on April 20 after a friend showed her a group Snapchat sent to five men that included a nude photo of the woman, according to an Edgar Police Department incident report. The woman then showed police a series of threatening text messages sent over a two-week period in which Hake allegedly threatened to send the photos if the woman did not give up two tickets to a country music concert the two had planned to attend together.
Officers spoke with Hake, who initially denied sending the photo. But additional text messages intercepted by police showed a series of threats Hake allegedly made to the woman, several of which are included as screenshots in court documents.
“Have fun happy hoe…btw those pics I could probably sell to ppl,” one text allegedly read.
“Once a hoe always a hoe. God, you are seriously disgusting,” others read. “So I’ll take my ticket or else I’m releasing your pics.”
Judges, prosecutors, and police say so-called “revenge porn” is an increasing problem, one that has serious implications for both victims and perpetrators. The term “revenge porn” generally refers to the uploading of sexually explicit material to humiliate and intimidate the victim, who has broken off the relationship. Victims, whose images expose them to workplace discrimination, cyber-stalking or physical attack, can have their lives ruined as a result and are often blamed for allowing their former partners to take nude photos in the first place.
Social media sites like Facebook have started to take actions to proactively detect and stop the spread of revenge porn. Legislation has also been proposed that would increase penalties for posting nude pictures without the consent of the victim. Sites dedicated to the posting of revenge porn have been shut down and there is a growing awareness and movement to stop the spread of revenge porn.
Court documents show Hake in 2014 was accused of forgery, battery, false imprisonment and use of a dangerous weapon. All charges except forgery were dismissed as part of a plea agreement, in which Hake was sentenced to probation and was ordered to undergo counseling. But that plea agreement was already in jeopardy after Hake in December was arrested on charges of disorderly conduct and bail jumping.
After his initial appearance on the latest round of charges, Hake was released after posting a $2,500 cash bond, according to the Vinelink jail notification system. A preliminary hearing is set for May 2.