JOHNSON COUNTY, Mo. — A Michigan man is accused of sexually exploiting and blackmailing a Johnson County teen in March 2018.
However, court documents show she isn’t the only one he’s targeted.
Martez Hurst, 22, is charged with attempted sexual exploitation of a child, sexual exploitation of a child and blackmail.
In court documents filed in April, he’s accused of coercing a teenager to engage in sexually explicit conduct with the intent to promote it. They also accuse him of threatening the teen with public ridicule and degradation.
Overland Park police records show the alleged abuse began in January and went on for two months. An employee of a local high school reported the abuse to police in March of last year.
Court documents paint a troubling case of abuse and deception through Snapchat.
The 16-year-old female victim told Overland Park police, after the employee reported the abuse, she had started talking to a person on the app she thought was 17 years old and was a student at a nearby school using the name “Chris Robinson.”
Through their communication, “Robinson” allegedly convinced her to send 10 explicit photos of herself after he asked her for them.
She told investigators over and over “Robinson” asked her for sexually explicit videos of herself, and she turned him down each time.
On March 2, 2018, court documents say she received a message from “Robinson,” telling her she had to send him an explicit video by the end of the day or he would release the photos she previously sent onto the internet.
Officers were able to access the teen’s phone and see the alleged demands, instructions and threats he sent the girl.
In April, Martez was charged with the crimes. Police were able to track down the profile of “Chris Robinson” to a suburban Detroit home where they were able to interview him.
Detectives say Hurst admitted to using the Snapchat account under the alias of “Chris Robinson.”
They said he admitted to lying about his age and using fake pictures to create an alias. They allege he told them he talked to her through the app for two to three weeks and admitted he sent her threatening messages to get videos from her.
Martez allegedly told detectives he used the app to talk with 20 other females and threatened them in the same manner. Court documents reveal he told police three of those females did send him videos as a result.
Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe said this is a crime they are seeing more frequently.
“That is something that we’ve really seen an increase in volume in our office, something that concerns us greatly,” Howe said. “In that, individuals float around on the internet looking for minors to try to coerce them to get pictures of them, and then blackmail them into getting additional pictures or videos that they can continue to use.”
Howe said it’s incredibly important to talk to your children about relationships with others, using social media and possible predatory behavior that can happen.
“It is so important in today’s world to have conversations with your kids,” Howe said. “I’m talking about kids fifth grade, middle school. That’s when you need to start having those conversations about the fact that there are individuals out there preying on kids, and that is the method that they are going to use. If you don’t have that conversation with your child then you are putting them at a higher risk to be preyed on by those individuals.”
He wants teens to understand that once something is on the internet it can never fully disappear. Howe said this is a form of cyberbullying and can have serious consequences on victims of crimes like these.
“Some of the most egregious examples is kids have them have committed suicide,” Howe said. “Or had major mental health or substance abuse issues as a result of this type of bullying. So these are serious situations that have serious implications on these kids not just on their immediate lives, but in their future as well. Because as we know once it’s on the internet you can’t undo that. You can’t pull it back out of the internet once it’s back out there.”
Howe said there is no shame in saying no. If someone cares about you, they won’t ask you to put yourself at risk.
“It’s important to be able to say no. Just understand that there are real implications that occur when you hit that send button,” Howe said. “You can’t undo it. If someone really cares about you they shouldn’t be requesting those types of pictures. I think it’s about self-worth and that they have a good image of themselves, and that they value themselves, and that they are valued by their families and friends.”
Martez first appeared in Johnson County court on July 15th and was released from the county jail on July 19. Martez is expected back in court on September 27.