By Shereen Siewert
A 30-year-old Wausau man will spend five years on probation and nine months in jail for circulating nude images of a former girlfriend on social media, while repeatedly threatening to release additional photos.
Michael Hake was sentenced this month in Marathon County Circuit Court after being convicted of misdemeanor charges of posting or publishing photos without the owner’s consent and four felony counts of bail jumping. Three of the four bail jumping charges were connected to a 2014 case in which he was under a deferred prosecution agreement.
As part of a plea agreement, Hake was given a withheld sentence. In the event of probation failure in connection with a withheld sentence, the defendant is returned to court to receive his sentence. The court can then sentence the defendant up to the maximum penalty. Circuit Judge LaMont Jacobson presided over the case.
The victim called police in April 2018 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 victim 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.
In addition to the jail term, Jacobson on Friday ordered Hake to undergo AODA treatment and counseling and maintain absolute sobriety from drugs and alcohol. He could also be required to pay restitution to the victim, in an amount yet to be determined.
Court records show Hake must report to jail within 45 days to begin his sentence. He was given seven days credit for time served immediately after his arrest.