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Grand Island teen pleads guilty to federal child porn charge

Max Rookstool Thursday pleaded guilty to a federal child porn charge.
Max Rookstool Thursday pleaded guilty to a federal child porn charge.(Hall County Jail)
Published: Nov. 5, 2020 at 4:06 PM CST
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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - The student at the center of a Grand Island human trafficking and child porn investigation Thursday pleaded guilty to a federal charge of receiving and distributing child pornography.

Max Rookstool, 18, could get up to 20 years in federal prison.

Rookstool, who at the time was a student at Grand Island Northwest, was arrested in January after an investigation by Grand Island Police. Police discovered 194 images of minors that had been gathered since September of 2017. Police discovered that at least 16 victims were involved, some of whom were asked to perform sexual acts under threat that the images would be made public.

Rookstool is scheduled to be sentenced on the federal child porn conviction February 5.

Rookstool is also charged in Hall County with one count of first degree sexual assault, two counts of human trafficking, two counts of human trafficking of a minor, 11 counts of visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct and one count of unlawful distribution of images or videos of another person’s intimate area.

Those charges are pending.

Rookstool had been out on bond, but in September a judge sent him to Hall County jail for violating the conditions of that bond, which required that Rookstool not use a smart phone, tablet, computer or other electronic devices except for school. He was also ordered to use no social media and was confined to his home except for school, health care or counseling.

Court records show that in August 2020, Rookstool allegedly sent social media messages to juvenile males asking that they have sex with a person identified as “Max” or that they they physically assault “Max.” The messages threatened to make nude photos of the males public if they didn’t comply with the requests. Investigators traced those messages to an IP address assigned to Rookstool’s father’s residence.

Court records also indicated that officers served a search warrant on Rookstool in September and when they arrived at the house they found Rookstool leaving the residence with his mother. They also found a phone with internet access, an MP3 player, an XBOX, a smart TV and a laptop computer.

In a related case, former Northwest teacher Brian Mohr, pleaded guilty Tuesday to child porn charges in federal court after he was found to have pictures related to Rookstool’s alleged crimes. He pleaded guilty to federal possession of child pornography. His sentencing hearing is scheduled Jan 29.

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