Cell phone app Snapchat at issue in child sex case


A 24-year-old man recently indicted in Bowie County allegedly used the cell phone app Snapchat to exchange explicit photos with a teen girl.

Matthew James Russell was indicted last week for a single count of indecency with a child by sexual contact by a Bowie County grand jury. According to a probable cause affidavit, Russell’s conduct may have included more than touching a 15-year-old relative by marriage.

The girl’s mother suspected something inappropriate was happening between Russell and her daughter. When confronted, the teen allegedly described Russell as her boyfriend.

“She also learned that (the alleged victim) had been sending nude photos through Snapchat to Russell,” the affidavit states. “It was also reported that Russell had obtained sexually explicit photos of another underage female friend of (the alleged victim).”

But proving Russell used Snapchat to exchange sexually explicit photos with the minors might be impossible.

“The messages are sent with one to ten second view limits before being deleted,” the affidavit said. “Except for limited circumstances, the messages cannot be retrieved. The exception being that one of the parties did not open a message; then it is only available for 30 days. All messages are permanently deleted from the Snapchat servers after being opened. The suspect is alleged to have destroyed both phones that were involved in the inappropriate behavior.”

If an adult receives sexually explicit images of a minor they can be deemed in possession of child pornography. Russell allegedly provided the teen with a cell phone because her parents monitored the one they had given her.

If found guilty of indecency with a child by sexual contact, Russell faces two to 20 years in prison.

An indictment is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

View Probable Cause Affidavit for Arrest Warrant .pdf

Previous articleLittle River County couple found dead in apparent murder-suicide
Next articleDaily Police Briefings – 2/24/16