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Bond set for Valpo man accused of posing as teen for photos, sex with minors

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Brett Steel

Brett Steel

VALPARAISO — Bond was set Friday morning at $6,000 for a 21-year-old Valparaiso man accused of posing as a teenage girl and boy when messaging minors for photographs and arranging to meet up with one for sex.

Porter Superior Court Judge Mike Fish told the accused, Brett Steel, that if he does bond out of jail, he will be placed on pretrial supervision.

Steel also was ordered to have no further contact with the two minors while his case proceeds.

Coming Sunday, take a Ride with Justin Dyer, a Specialist with LaPorte Police.

Steel, who was represented during the short hearing by defense attorney Mark Chargualaf, is charged with felony counts of child molesting, possession of child pornography and intimidation, and misdemeanor contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Preliminary pleas of not guilty were entered Friday morning on his behalf.

The case came to the attention of Porter County officers when on March 7 they received multiple anonymous tips that Steel had threatened someone's life and possessed child pornography, police said.

Police met with Steel, who admitted to threatening to kill the other person and told police they would find a nude photo of a 16-year-old female friend on his phone, according to court records.

Police said they found multiple nude images and videos of the girl from Dec. 16 through Feb. 24.

Text messages also were found on the phone that revealed Steel met up with another girl, whom he knew to be 13, at Founders Square Park in Portage at 12:30 a.m. Nov. 13 to provide her with marijuana and for sex, police said.

That girl told police she met Steel through his stepsister, whom she met on Snapchat but had never seen in person, police said. The stepsister described herself as a 13- or 14-year-old female from Crown Point, whose 16-year-old stepbrother is Steel.

Police said they discovered from Steel's phone that he had been allegedly representing himself as the stepsister and as a 16-year-old boy, charging documents state. He was 20 and 21 years old during each of the alleged criminal acts, court records state.

Future court dates were scheduled for July 12 and Aug. 9.

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Porter/LaPorte County Courts and Social Justice Reporter

Bob is a 23-year veteran of The Times. He covers county government and courts in Porter County, federal courts, police news and regional issues. He also created the Vegan in the Region blog, is an Indiana University grad and lifelong region resident.

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