Hall County Judge Alfred Corey set bond at $750,000 today for the Northwest High School student accused of engaging in human trafficking and child pornography.
Max Rookstool, 17, appeared in court by video from Hall County Jail.
Corey enumerated the charges and asked Rookstool if he understood them.
At this point, Rookstool said he plans to hire an attorney rather than have one appointed for him.
To be released from jail, the defendant must pay 10 percent of the $750,000 bond. Corey also specified that Rookstool have no contact with the four juveniles who are listed as victims.
Hall County Attorney Marty Klein said the state has very serious concerns about the safety of the public. He asked Corey to set a significant cash bond because of the seriousness of the alleged crimes and the number of people affected.
In discussing probable cause, Klein said the defendant in essence used blackmail to commit the crimes.
Rookstool is charged with 17 offenses, 16 of which are felonies. He is charged with two counts of human trafficking, two counts of human trafficking of a minor, one count of first-degree sexual assault, 11 counts of visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct and one count of unlawful distribution of images or videos of another person’s intimate area. The alleged crimes took place between Aug. 1, 2018, and Oct. 4, 2019.
A Northwest teacher, Brian Mohr, was also arrested Tuesday. He has not yet made a court appearance.
According to the Grand Island Police Department, Mohr was arrested as a suspect in multiple counts of possession of sexually explicit material (child pornography).
After today’s court appearance, Klein was asked if the victims are female or male. He declined to answer the question because he’s doing his best to avoid identifying the victims, he said.
In today’s police media report, Grand Island police say Mohr was found to be in possession of 34 images of child pornography. “The identities and ages of these victims have been verified, and are confirmed to be under the age of 19 years old. Brian admitted to investigators that he knew he was in possession of child pornography.”
The media report states that the juvenile male “sent multiple nude images of children who have been identified, and confirmed to be under the age of 19 years old without their consent. The juvenile male used threat and or coercion to have a minor engage in a sexually explicit performances and for the production of child pornography. The juvenile male also used these same unlawful means to have an adult engage in unwanted sexual activity and for the production of pornography.”
Corey scheduled a preliminary hearing for 10 a.m. Feb. 20.