Baraga man charged in undercover human trafficking sting
By Journal Staff
BARAGA — An undercover sting operation in the Upper Peninsula resulted in the arrest of a local man for seeking out an officer posing as an underage girl online for sex, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced on Wednesday.
William Michael Brunk, 26, of Baraga, was arraigned Wednesday at the 97th District Court on the following charges: one count of child sexually abusive activity, a 20-year felony; one count of using a computer to commit a crime, a 20-year felony; one count of accosting a child for immoral purposes, a four-year felony; and cne count of using a computer to commit a crime, a seven-year felony.
In June, a Houghton County Sheriff’s Office deputy posted a video on a fake Snapchat account depicting the exterior of the Waterstone Suites in L’Anse Township located in Baraga County with a suggestive message. Brunk allegedly sent a private message to the account holder who he believed to be a 15-year-old girl and agreed to meet at the posted location to engage in sexual intercourse.
Brunk traveled to the hotel a day later and arrived at the room provided by the undercover officer posing as the underage girl where he was immediately arrested by law enforcement.
“Those who prey upon children are the most depraved members of society and I will use the full resources of the Department of Attorney General to prosecute offenders,” Nessel said in a statement. “I commend our partners in law enforcement for their diligence in apprehending predators that seek to exploit and assault kids.”
In 2019, the Houghton County Sheriff’s Office created the fake Snapchat account to aid in criminal investigations. The account profile depicted a young woman with dark hair and undercover officers added hundreds of “friends” to the account.
Since 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, have been conducting Human Trafficking Operative stings. The team of undercover law enforcement officers pose as underage males and females and are used as decoys to identify and pursue predators.
Bond was set at $25,000 cash/surety with the conditions that Brunk have no contact with unaccompanied minors, no use of computers including the Internet or social media except for employment purposes. He is also not allowed to have weapons, consume alcohol or controlled substances without a prescription.
A probable cause conference is scheduled for 9 a.m. Dec. 6 and a preliminary exam is set for 10 a.m. Dec. 13.