Baraga County man charged with secret human trafficking sting

LANSING An undercover operation in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula has led to the arrest of a local man seeking an officer posing as an underage girl for sex online, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced today.

William Michael Brunk, 26, of Baraga, was arraigned in the 97th District Court on Wednesday on the following charges:

  • One count of child sexual abuse, a 20-year felony;
  • One count of using a computer to commit a crime, a 20-year felony;
  • Charge a child once for immoral purposes, a four-year felony;
  • One count of using a computer to commit a crime, a seven-year felony.

In June 2022, a Houghton County sheriff’s deputy posted a video to a fake Snapchat account showing an image of the exterior of the Waterstone Suites in L’Anse Township in Baraga County with a suggestive message. Brunk allegedly sent a private message to the account holder he believed to be a 15-year-old girl agreeing to meet at the posted location to have sexual intercourse. Brunk traveled to the hotel a day later and arrived in the room provided by the undercover officer posing as the underage girl, where he was immediately arrested by the police.

“Those who prey on children are the most depraved members of society and I will use all the resources of the Attorney General’s Office to prosecute offenders,” Nessel said. “I commend our partners in law enforcement for their diligence in apprehending predators who attempt to exploit and attack children.”

In 2019, the Houghton County Sheriff’s Office created the fake Snapchat account to aid in criminal investigations. The account profile showed a young woman with dark hair and undercover agents added hundreds of “friends” to the account.

As of fall 2021, the sheriff’s offices of Baraga, Houghton, Keweenaw, and Ontonagon counties, as well as the Iron River Police Department and the Upper Peninsular Human Trafficking Taskforce, are conducting human trafficking operations. Posing as underage men and women, the team of undercover law enforcement officers are used as decoys to identify and pursue predators.

The bond was set at $25,000 cash/security bond with the terms that Brunk have no contact with unaccompanied minors, use computers, including the internet, or social media, except for work purposes. He is also not allowed to have guns, use alcohol or controlled substances without a prescription.

A probable cause conference is scheduled for December 6 at 9 a.m. and a preparatory exam is scheduled for December 13 at 10 a.m.

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