A pastor from Illinois was reportedly charged with sexually grooming a minor via Snapchat.
The Christian Post said Rochester First Baptist Church Pastor Joseph Krol was charged for grooming a 15-year-old teenager for sex. The 36-year-old resident of Sangamon County was caught by authorities for sending sexually explicit messages to the minor via Snapchat.
Macon County Sheriff's Office served the search warrant on October 15 at Krol's Dawson residence. Sergeant Roger Pope, one of the authorities who was serving the warrant, told the Herald Review in an interview that Krol took long to answer them. The deputies serving the warrant said they could see Krol grabbing his mobile phone while he was in the kitchen area and manipulating the buttons on it. The authorities discovered that Krol reset his phone's factory settings to cover up his tracks.
"Prior to answering the door, (Krol was) seen grabbing his cellphone and manipulating the buttons while standing in the kitchen area. Deputies immediately located his phone, but (Krol) had factory reset the phone in an attempt to wipe all of the data," Pope said.
However, the authorities were able to get evidence against Krol through the phone of the minor since it was provided by his parents to the police. The teenager's phone showed sexually explicit messages sent by Krol. The minor also took screenshots of their conversations on the phone and submitted it to authorities.
Part of the complaint against Krol, as per the Herald Review, is requesting nude photos from the teenager, as well as, playing social media games in a sexually suggestive nature with the minor.
According to WAND TV, Krol contacted the teenager on October 7 to play "online true confessions game." What started as an innocent encounter become sexual in nature eventually. The affidavit said that Krol told the minor that he could sneak out with him when he comes over to bring him a gift, at a time everyone in the child's home is asleep.
Accordingly, Krol's case is not an isolated incident. Similar cases have already been reported on Snapchat having sexually exploitative content. Christianity Daily reported in March that a Snapchat predator took advantage of minor, under the name John Doe, and blackmailed him to send sexually explicit photos and videos that eventually landed in Twitter.
The video viraled in Twitter and the minor asked the platform to put it down but ignored him. Twitter eventually took it down after it came in "direct involvement from a law enforcement officer" when the video already had 167,000 views.
The National Center on Sexual Exploitation actually put Snapchat in 2018 as part of its "Dirty Dozen List", which identify entities that tolerate sexual exploitation. The National Center on Sexual Exploitation removed Snapchat this year from the list after the platform made some user safety improvements. Snapchat, however, remains in NCOSE's "Watch List" pending some issued that needs to be resolved.
"Snapchat's business model facilitates sexual exploitation yielding hefty profits for the company without any regard for the associated harms," the National Center on Sexual Exploitation said.
"While Snapchat has made some minor improvements to allow Discover publishers to age-gate content, Snapchat still does not allow users to opt-out of sexually graphic content or to report Snapchat users that are sending sexually explicit photos and videos, or using their Snapchat app to promote or advertise pornography or prostitution," they added.