ANOKA, Minn. - A former Minneapolis police officer accused of having sex with juvenile females he found on social media was released from jail Friday afternoon after making bail.
Bradley James Schnickel, 32, of Andover made his first appearance in Anoka County Court Friday morning. He is charged with two counts of third degree criminal sexual conduct, one of attempted third degree criminal sexual conduct, and three counts of engaging in electronic communication relating or describing sexual conduct with a child.
"The allegations are that he had sex with one of the victims," said Tony Palumbo, Anoka County Attorney. "My understanding is he attempted to solicit the other victims for sex."
Judge Sharon Hall ordered Schnickel to have no contact with juvenile females, even his own daughters, ages two and six months. That is a condition of Schnickel's $250,000 bail. The judge cited comments Schnickel allegedly made on social media saying that he liked young children.
Schnickel's wife was in the courtroom for his appearance. It is not known if he has retained a personal attorney.
Schnickel is out of jail and out of a job. He had been on administrative leave since his arrest on Wednesday evening.
Minneapolis Police Department's Public Information Officer Sgt. Stephen McCarty tweeted Friday, "Schnickel is not employed by the City, his last date of employment is February 8, 2013."
Assistant County Attorney Paul Young told the courtroom that Schnickel has contacted some of his alleged victims and told them to deny that any sexual conduct had occured or otherwise change their stories. Prosecutors say Schnickel went as far as to wait for one girl at her bus stop, and another at her home to ask them what they told police. County Attorney Tony Palumbo said there is not enough evidence at this time to charge Schnickel with witness tampering.
"Obviously, that is a very, very serious matter," Palumbo told reporters after the Friday morning hearing. "If these allegations are proven, he has chosen to do things that certainly betray what he has sworn to uphold. It is puzzling that such a young police officer who has tried to do such a good job would do these things."
The criminal complaint details how Schnickel allegedly began having sexual conversations with a 14-year-old girl he found on Facebook in April of 2012, calling himself "Brady Schmidt". Investigators say he told her he was 22-years-old. By July the two had agreed to meet, and the juvenile told detectives Schnickel got her drunk on vodka and Mountain Dew before having intercourse with her at Crooked Lake Park in Coon Rapids.
Investigators have only made it through about one-third of the internet conversations Schneckel reportedly had with at least four juveniles. They expect to find more victims, and anticipate that more charges may be filed against Schnickel.
His next court appearance will be March 6.
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