by Katy Zillmer
Sun Post Newspapers
An investigation of nearly 9,000 pages of electronic evidence of alleged online conversations between a former Minneapolis police officer, Bradley James Schnickel, and numerous juvenile females last year has led to charges being filed by the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office.
Schnickel, 32 of Andover, allegedly had sexually explicit phone and Facebook conversations with an 11-year-old Brooklyn Center girl in October 2012, according to the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office. Schnickel has been charged with four counts of felony Internet or computer solicitation of children.
He faces similar charges in Anoka County for allegedly having sex with a 14-year-old girl and soliciting sex from at least three other teens.
Those charges, filed in February, include multiple counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct and engaging in electronic communication relating or describing sexual conduct with a child, according to the Hennepin County criminal complaint. Schnickel was fired from the Minneapolis Police Department in February.
In the Hennepin County case, Schnickel allegedly used aliases including “Brady Schmidt” and “Brian Schmidt” to contact the Brooklyn Center girl online and by cell phone, according to the county attorney’s office.
He had similar sexually explicit conversations with a 14-year-old girl, who is Facebook friends with the 11-year-old Brooklyn Center girl, starting in July 2012.
The complaint states the Brooklyn Center Police Department received a report from the 11-year-old girl’s mother on Oct. 25, 2012 after she checked her daughter’s cell phone and found sexually explicit messages via Facebook from both “Brady Schmidt” and “Brian Schmidt.”
On Oct. 19, 2012, Schnickel allegedly wrote the 11-year-old girl a message after finding her through the 14-year-old girl’s Facebook page.
Another alleged message to the girl said he usually dates girls younger than age 16 and that he had an ex in eighth grade.
Schnickel allegedly continued to chat with the girl during the following days and at one point told her he was driving through Brooklyn Center and that it was too bad they couldn’t hang out.
Schnickel allegedly sent the girl pictures of his face, himself without a shirt on, and of his genitals and continuously included sex in their conversations.
One of the pictures was sent on Oct. 24, 2012 and the girl’s mother found the messages the next day and contacted authorities. The girl’s mother was able to identify the 14-year-old girl as one of the victims.
Schnickel also allegedly sent the 14-year-old girl pictures of his genitals about five different times and asked her to meet him in the park near her school.
The communication from Schnickel to the girl allegedly continued for months, including requests for information about other juvenile girls and offers to pay her money to “hook him up” with her friends.
On Nov. 2, 2012, Schnickel allegedly sent the girl a message, “I miss u!” after not talking to her for a couple of weeks.
He also allegedly contacted the 11-year-old girl again on Nov. 12, 2012 asking her why she was being “so weird” after he had not talked to her for two weeks.
A search warrant was executed at Schnickel’s home on Dec. 20, 2012. Investigators recovered a camera and laptop. The forensic investigation of the computer found Schnickel’s aliases “Brian Schmidt” and Brady Schmidt” more than 4,000 times.
Investigators also found that Schnickel’s master bathroom matched the background seen in some of the pictures sent to the 11-year-old girl. They matched pictures of his face he allegedly sent to her to his driver’s license photo, the complaint concluded.
Schnickel’s first appearance in Hennepin County District Court was April 17 and he has an omnibus hearing Wednesday, May 22.
He posted bail in Hennepin County April 18 with conditions that he not have contact with victims, witnesses, and males or females under age 18. He is not allowed to use the Internet or a computer and he is on active supervision.
Schnickel had posted $250,000 bail in Anoka County in February, with conditions, according to the Anoka County Attorney’s Office.
Each charge in Hennepin County has a penalty of up to three years in prison and the possibility of a $5,000 fine.
“This conduct is sad, outrageous and reprehensible,” said Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman. “We look up to our police officers and grant them special standing in our society. To have that trust betrayed is simply wrong and we appreciate the swift action of the Minneapolis Police Department in firing him. Our hearts go out to the children and their families who were so impacted by this unacceptable conduct,” Freeman said.
Editor’s note: Eric Hagen, ABC Newspapers, contributed to this report.
Katy Zillmer is at [email protected].