By Kelsey Givens
One young man has been banned from using the Internet and placed on five years probation after he reportedly coerced a 15-year-old female into performing sexual acts that were videotaped last year.
Tai’jade Apollo Saunders appeared in District Court Friday to be sentenced on one count of stalking with use of the Internet and one count of statutory sexual seduction after he was involved in a horrifying sexual assault on a minor caught on tape last May.
According to police reports at the time of Saunders’ arrest, the then 18-year-old man had become angry with the victim and decided to make up a story about his involvement in a Las Vegas-based street gang to coerce the 15-year-old female to perform various sexual acts.
Saunders reportedly told the female that things had gone badly with his gang and that he and his family were facing serous harm or possibly death unless she would perform for him on tape.
Feeling compelled to do something to help, Saunders’ victim complied with his request.
After an in-depth investigation by the Nye County Sheriff’s Office, Saunders was arrested and charged.
Judge Kimberly Wanker, who presided over the sentencing hearing last week, told Saunders that she was stunned by his actions and couldn’t believe a young man could commit such a crime.
“What you did in my opinion as an 18-year-old is absolutely reprehensible. I don’t think most people at 40 or 50 would dream up the kind of plot you made up,” she said. “I just can’t believe at 18 you would rack up this plot to tell these victims, who believed it, that you created a Facebook character, you said you were a member of a gang and that the gang was going to kill you if these two people didn’t engage in sexual acts on videotape; that’s reprehensible to me.”
After lecturing Saunders about what he had done, Wanker made sure to highlight all of the privileges he had lost because of his poor choices.
As part of his probation terms, Saunders has been banned from owning or using any kind of electronic device, including a cell phone, that can access the Internet, unless he is granted permission to do so by both parole and probation officers and the court.
Saunders was told he is not to own or have access to cameras, camera phones, computers, social media accounts including Facebook and Twitter or an email account.
“Mr. Saunders, I think it would be a very good thing you return to high school when these two victims have graduated and explain to them the trouble you have gotten into, because you really have gotten yourself into a mess,” Wanker said. “This has cost you, if I have read the pre-sentence investigation correctly, this has cost you the ability to go into the military, which you wanted to do.
“I can’t imagine in this day and age not being able to use a computer or the Internet. You know I do electronic research on my phone, on my iPad, on my computer, I use it seven days a week as a judge and as an attorney I can’t imagine. So basically, the only phone you can have now is one of those dinosaurs that came out 20 years ago where you can make a call and answer a call and that’s it, because now these smart phones have all this Internet and you’ve lost your privilege to have that.”
Aside from losing the ability to use most kinds of electronic devices, Saunders was also ordered to register within 48 hours of the hearing with the sheriff’s office as a sex offender.
If he fails to comply with the rules and regulations of his probation, Saunders is facing a minimum term of 24 months and maximum of 60 months in a Nevada state prison.
Should he successfully complete his five-year probation, however, Saunders will be allowed, as part of his plea agreement, to come back before the court and have the category C felony charge of stalking with use of the Internet pled down to a gross misdemeanor.
“Obviously you didn’t use your head here at all, but you devised some kind of crazy, twisted little plot here and you have to understand there are consequences for that,” the judge said.
“Because you haven’t been in trouble with the law in the past, if you comply with all of these terms over the next five years as part of the plea agreement, you’ll be able to come back to the court and ask to withdraw your category C felony and it will be pled down to a gross misdemeanor, so there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, but I want you to understand something, Mr. Saunders, probation is a privilege and if you violate those conditions there is a consequence.”