CACHE COUNTY, Utah — A 20-year-old man is facing numerous counts of sexual exploitation of a minor after police say he coerced a teenage girl into sending him nude photos and video.
Michael Brent Powell—20 of Pocatello, Idaho—is charged with 12 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor as second-degree felonies and one count of aggravated sexual extortion of a child as a first-degree felony, according to charging documents, and a warrant has been issued for his arrest.
A Cache County Sheriff’s Office detective began investigating the case when a deputy contacted him about a teen who attends school in the Hyrum area.
A 17-year-old girl provided a series of Facebook messages that included 12 nude photos and videos of herself. In the messages, a suspect calling himself “Mark West” showed other nude photos of the teen and threatened to send them to other people, including her family, if she did not immediately take more nude photos and videos and send them to him.
In the messages the teen pleads for the man to stop or for more time to comply, but the suspect demands she take the photos immediately, saying things like “If you don’t want to then I guess your family wants to see these” and “Bathroom now or everyone sees”. The teen ultimately sent several photos and videos.
The teen told police she believed “Mark West” was really Michael Powell, a friend she had first met online in 2015. They later met in person and then continued contact online until August of this year when the girl sent Powell nude photos of herself via Snapchat.
According to court documents, the teen said Powell coerced her into sending more nude photos that included her face, threatening to send the initial, less revealing photos to other people if she didn’t comply. The teen did so and said Powell later apologized and she did not report the extortion.
The teen said Powell later became angry when she would not agree the pair are dating. This occurred toward the end of October. After she deleted his phone number, she started getting the threatening messages from the “Mark West” account on Facebook, which included the photos she had previously sent to Powell. The teen contacted police later that same day.
Police recovered some text messages sent between the teen and Powell’s phone number.
“You don’t want anyone seeing the pics and vids huh,” a messages reads.
The teen responds: “Nope. But if you wanna be that type of person who shows my pics/videos then I can be the type of person to charge you with possession of child pornography so you decide”.
Police attempted to set up a call between the teen and Powell in order to record the conversation, but Powell did not answer the phone. Later the victim’s family told police the girl’s father had called later but Powell hung up once he found out who the caller was. The phone number in question has now been disconnected.
Based on those findings, police filed an affidavit for a warrant on November 8, and that warrant was issued November 22 with a cash only bail in the amount of $100,000.
Authorities learned Powell is currently living in Pocatello, Idaho but stated he has a Utah driver’s license. He has not yet been booked into jail.