0416 GMT July 17, 2019
Prosecutors told the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois filed a complaint this week that stated Fireman Apprentice Ethan Knez, 21, used a website and messaging app to instruct a 13-year-old girl and “approximately 15 other females under the age of 18 to produce similar sexually explicit images and videos and that they sent these images and videos to him at his request.”
According to the complaint, Kenz convinced the Michigan-based 13-year-old girl to send him sexually explicit photos and videos of herself in February 2018.
The girl’s father found out about the relationship last March and informed authorities that his daughter had traded pornographic images with adult men, Press TV reported.
The girl’s parents handed her phone over to authorities found a messaging app account that they later on linked to Knez, who was a student at Training Support Center Great Lakes, a service school north of Chicago, at the time.
Besides sending explicit images to Kenz, the girl also “talked about issues with her parents, the desire to run away, and alluded to taking pills in a possible suicide attempt,” prosecutors said.
Knez continued the relationship even when the girl told her that she had been sexually assaulted at school, the complaint states.
The US Naval Criminal Investigative Service decided to intervene when Knez was determined to be a member of the military.
“Knez said he believed the youngest victim was 15 or 16 years old,” a NCIS special agent wrote in the court files. “When I confronted Knez with (the 13-year-old girl’s) age, Knez said, ‘if that’s what it says, then that’s what it is.’”
Kenz’s case underscores an issue that has long plagued the US military.
In 2017, the US Defense Department has announced that more than 20,300 reports of sexual assaults had been filed at American military installations worldwide since 2013.
Earlier this month, Republican Senator Martha McSally, who is regarded as a “war hero” for being the first American female fighter pilot to fly in combat, revealed that she was sexually assaulted by a superior while serving in the US Air Force.