SLAYTON - Two individuals who reportedly had sex in an ice house on Lake Shetek last winter quickly became the subject of a social media craze, and two people are now facing charges because of it.
According to court documents, Austin S. West, 24, of Tracy made his initial appearance Monday in Murray County District Court on a string of charges related to his alleged involvement in disseminating a photo of two individuals engaged in sexual activity. According to the complaint, the victims are easily identifiable in the photo.
Charges against West were filed in September. In statements to law enforcement, West admitted to holding a headlamp so that Heather Schmidt, 18, of Tracy, could snap a photograph of sexual activity occurring between two members of their ice fishing party.
As detailed in the complaint, the two victims were aware the photo had been taken without their consent, although one victim explained to law enforcement that she wasn’t concerned about the photo until she began receiving multiple calls and messages from people about the image. That was after it had circulated around social media app Snapchat, attached with derogatory messages and emojis.
West claimed to have received the photo from Schmidt, and subsequently sent it only to an individual identified in the complaint as “the girlfriend” of one of the victims.
Schmidt questioned the female victim’s complaint about the photograph, claiming that she initially thought it “was funny” until the victim in question got into her own legal trouble for an incident in Redwood County.
West and Schmidt both face a string of charges including felony first-degree burglary, two counts of felony nonconsensual dissemination of private sexual images obtained by surreptitious (secretive) intrusion, two counts of felony nonconsensual dissemination of private sexual images with intention to harass, and aid and abet interference with privacy by use of surreptitious device, a gross misdemeanor.
West’s bail was scheduled at $10,000 without conditions. According to her court filed, Schmidt had not been jailed.