The charges against a Dallas, Oregon, man accused of soliciting sexual photos from underage boys on a computer in Deschutes County have more than tripled.
Brandon Kautz, 25, was arrested July 28 and charged with nine felony sex crimes in connection with pretending to be a teenage girl and friending young boys on Facebook and Instagram. Authorities said he would then send nude photos of the girl he was pretending to be, and then ask for nude photos from the boys.
Further investigation found more victims, and on Aug. 7 a grand jury indicted Kautz on 32 felony charges relating to online sexual abuse of boys ages 10 to 17. When originally arrested, Kautz was accused of committing crimes against two victims. However, the grand jury named 10 victims when it increased the charges. Court documents state there are more than 20 known victims.
According to court documents, Kautz would first make contact with the boys while pretending to be a teenage girl. He allegedly would use the fake profiles to introduce the victims to the actual Kautz and would also send the victims sexually explicit photos and receive photos of videos of the victims engaging in sex acts, court documents allege.
While he never physically met the victims, several are from Central Oregon, and Kautz did make steps toward meeting them, the prosecution alleges.
Kautz was in court Monday, via video from the Deschutes County jail, after his attorney, Erick Ward, filed a motion to have his bail reduced from $250,000 to $25,000. If that were the case, Kautz could be bailed out for $2,500 — an amount his family said it could afford.
During the same hearing Monday, Deschutes County Deputy District Attorney Matthew Nelson argued the bail amount should be increased to $500,000. The initial bail was set when there were only nine charges against Kautz, and Nelson said the increase in charges, and with it an increase in potential punishment, warranted a higher bail. Ward argued that the $250,000 amount, much less the $500,000 amount, was far too high for Kautz to ever be released. He said Kautz’s father has colon cancer, and the family is overwhelmed with medical bills. Further, the family needs Kautz’s help to take care of his father.
Ward suggested lowering the bail and said Kautz could live with his parents where there would be no access to the internet. Further, he would be placed on a GPS monitor and be court-ordered to have no contact with the victims or any other minors.
Ward argued that Kautz has no criminal record, and that his health could deteriorate in jail. He said Kautz is partially deaf and wears unique hearing aids that require new batteries every six days, and that the ports that connect the aids to Kautz’s ear canals need to be cleaned several times per day. Failure to do so leads to infection. He said it’s been difficult to get Kautz the medical attention he needs while in the “unsanitary conditions” of the Deschutes County jail, adding that is no fault of jail staff but just the reality of the situation.
Nelson argued that because the charges are so severe, Kautz would be more likely to flee. He said Kautz formed ongoing relationships with these boys, and in some cases knew them from playing soccer with their older brothers.
Deschutes County Circuit Judge Walter Miller said upon reading the prosecution’s motion for an increase in bail, he was likely to agree. However, Ward’s argument persuaded him to keep bail at $250,000. He also said he would allow Ward to take another stab at bail reduction if there is a change in the case that warrants a new hearing.
Kautz’s next court date will be for a plea hearing and is scheduled Sept. 6.
— Reporter: 541-383-0376, firstname.lastname@example.org