Two men have been arrested by Hays Police Department officers for separate alleged sexual assaults relating to the messaging app Snapchat.
The arrests bring to three the number of local arrests in recent months tied to the popular social media app, where users send pictures, test and quick videos that disappear after 24 hours.
There are many similar apps, said Hays Police Department Detective Jeff Ridgway, who investigated two of the cases.
“They have their intended purposes,” Ridgway said, noting also Instagram, WeChat and Facebook. “But they can be misused, and used for the purpose of exploiting children.”
In these cases, Snapchat was the tool, he said.
“Over the years, the preferred communication method has changed slightly,” he said. “The go-to among our teens right now is Snapchat. Over time another app will develop. My generation, we had the early cell phones and started doing the texting.”
Snapchat’s attractive to kids, said Deputy Chief of Police Brian Dawson.
“If you send someone a photo, once they look at it it disappears. They can take a screen shot but it notifies the person,” Dawson said, but there are ways of getting around that, however.
“So if they took some risqué pictures it gives them a false sense of security,” he said.
Parents need to continue to monitor and have conversations about security, Dawson said.
“On social media, people often portray themselves as something they’re not.”
In the two latest cases, Christopher Lynn Cox, 20, and Christopher Boese, 19, were each arrested by the Hays Police Department in unrelated cases. The two allegedly used Snapchat to communicate with teen girls.
Cox, who gave his hometown as Oakley to jailers at the Hays Law Enforcement Center, was arrested Monday, Feb. 17 at the Rodeway Inn, 3404 Vine St., on probable cause for rape, unlawful hosting of a minor to consume alcohol, and minor in possession of alcohol, Ridgway said.
The alleged victim is a 14-year-old Ellis County girl, who on Feb. 17 was seen by police leaving one of the motel rooms at 1:30 a.m. The police, at the motel for another reason, saw the girl leave one of the rooms despite an 11 p.m. Sunday curfew in Hays. When they checked on her they smelled alcohol.
“Normally at 1:30 we don’t see a lot of juveniles out,” said Ridgway.
The girl told the officers she’d been sexually assaulted in one of the rooms at the hotel, Ridgway said.
Cox, who was discovered in the room the girl exited, was arrested at the motel, Ridgway said.
“They communicated via Snapchat and eventually connected,” he said.
Cox was at one point attending college in Colorado, but Ridgway said his most recent residency appears to be Hays. He was a state championship wrestler at Hoxie High School and a lineman on the school’s championship 2017 football team after transferring from Oakley High School.
Cox hasn’t made his $150,000 bond following his bond appearance Tuesday, so remains in jail on a judge’s finding of probable cause, said Ellis County Attorney Tom Drees.
On Thursday, Drees noted that Cox that day was missing a separate court hearing in Colorado.
“He was supposed to have a hearing today on a couple of misdemeanors,” he said.
Drees didn’t have details on the Colorado court date in the 15th Judicial District in Lamar, Colo., other than to say one misdemeanor was assault in the third degree and the other was attempted unlawful sexual contact.
In an unrelated case, Christopher Leroy Boese, who gave his address as the Colonial Gardens Mobile Home Community at 700 E. 6th, was arrested at 10:45 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 13 on suspicion of rape, aggravated criminal sodomy, electronic solicitation of a minor, and sexual exploitation of a minor, according to Drees.
The alleged victim is a 14-year-old Ellis County girl, who disclosed to a school counselor that she was raped mid-day Dec. 29 by a man known to her who is not a relative. The counselor, as required by law, reported it to police on Feb. 11, Ridgway said.
Boese was arrested after police executed a search warrant at his residence.
“There was a point at which he’s alleged to have asked her to come to his residence for the purpose of having sex,” Ridgway said.
From Barton County, Boese was living with relatives and was previously employed in Hays. He and the alleged victim were communicating through Snapchat, Ridgway said.
He also remains in jail in lieu of $150,000 bond.
In a third Snapchat related case, 31-year-old Cody W. Schultz of Victoria was arrested Dec. 18. Drees said Schultz was charged Jan. 23 with aggravated criminal sodomy of a child under 14 and two counts of electronic solicitation of a child under 14.
On the aggravated criminal sodomy charge, the alleged victim is a 12-year-old girl.
According to a December press release from the Hays Police Department, the HPD received a report Dec. 16 that a juvenile female had been sexually assaulted near Massey Park, 17th and Allen, around 6:15 p.m. that day. The girl said she met a man on social media and agreed to meet him at the park. She said the man physically restrained her, sexually assaulted her, then fled the park. The girl ran from the park and called police.
The following Friday, a search warrant was served by the Hays Police Department, Ellis County Sheriff’s Office, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, and the Victoria Police department at a home in Victoria, and Schultz was arrested at that time, according to the release.
Drees said a second girl, 13 years old, was also communicating through Snapchat. The second charge against Schultz of electronic solicitation relates to that alleged victim.
“I’m trying to remind parents in the community to be vigilant of what your children are doing on social media,” Drees said.