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Wausau man accused in “revenge porn” case faces new penalties

in Sirens

By Shereen Siewert

WAUSAU — A 29-year-old Wausau man accused of circulating nude images of a former girlfriend on social media will face new penalties in two earlier cases because the new charges nullified a plea agreement set in 2015.

Court documents show Michael Hake was at the tail end of a deferred sentencing agreement in two separate cases when the new allegations surfaced. In those cases, settled in 2015, Hake pleaded guilty to forgery and felony bail jumping. Those charges would have been dismissed had Hake stayed out of trouble for three full years.

As part of the plea agreement, additional charges of false imprisonment, battery and disorderly conduct with the use of a dangerous weapon were dismissed, but read into the record for sentencing purposes.

But on Tuesday, Dec. 4, Circuit Judge LaMont Jacobson revoked the agreement in light of a series of accusations against Hake including 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 for allegedly violating the terms of his plea agreement.

The case is one of thousands nationwide referred to by prosecutors as “revenge porn,” defined by the government as “the sharing of private, sexual materials, either photos or videos, of another person without their consent and with the purpose of causing embarrassment or distress.” Often there will be additional personal information included with the images or videos that are published.

Judges, prosecutors, and police say “revenge porn” is an increasing problem, one that has serious implications for both victims and perpetrators. 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.

In Hake’s case, the alleged victim called police 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 investigators 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.”

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.

With Hake’s original plea agreement now revoked, a new sentencing date will be set for the forgery and bail jumping charges. So far, a date has not been set.

Hake has been free since posting a $500 cash bond in June.

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