Man Accused of Alleged Online Harassment

BY TMN STAFF

Recently, there have been several allegations on social media claiming online harassment towards women in the Hays area.

The social media posts originate from an account associated with the name Braden Bongers, a former student of Fort Hays State University. Numerous social media accounts contain the name “Braden Bongers” or a resemblance to it — each with similar traits, some with no profile picture and no personal information. Allegations about Bongers date back to 2014.

Tiger Media Network decided to investigate the alleged online harassment by reaching out to those who came into contact with Bongers on social media, as well as Bongers and his family in order to bring light to the situation. Online conversations were shared with TMN reporters to validate the alleged interactions.

In a social media conversation with TMN reporter Justin Sabata, Callie Tolbert, a 20-year-old woman from McPherson, described her interaction with Bongers. The online statement reads as follows:

“i’ve [sic] got about 5 years worth of things. he’s [sic] very racist. he [sic] was obsessed with the fact that i’m [sic] friends with colored people, he’s told me to deep-throat a chainsaw, go kill myself. called [sic] me a whore etc.”

Tolbert said she refuses to visit Hays because of Bongers.

Fort Hays State University freshman and track and field participant Kayla Smith also recalled her experience with Bongers in a social media conversation with Sabata.

“So it started with Braden messaging me on Instagram and asking if I danced with him at the rose [sic] the night before. I told him no because I wasn’t even at the rose [sic] and he proceeded to say he was mistaken, and it was a normal, short conversation. I have never seen Braden in person and I definitely have never spoken to him. He added me on Snapchat and about a month later he sent me a Snapchat message saying ‘So what’s your problem with me?’ (Completely random) and I responded confused and said ‘huh?’ And he said ‘You’re literally so stuck up. Like what you think you’re too good for me? You know damn well we’ve met before.’ This went on for a long time of him accusing me of lying and being stuck up and he called me crazy multiple times until I finally just blocked him.”

In an interview with Delaney Kitch, a former FHSU student, she said she first encountered Bongers in August. According to Kitch, Bongers initiated the conversation via Snapchat.

“He seemed normal at first, nice,” Kitch said. “Then, he started asking really personal questions. Like, how many guys I’ve been with, what races of men.”

The exchange stayed on the subject of relationships.

“Once I said I didn’t want a relationship, he became hostile,” Kitch said. “Saying things like, ‘You’ve dated Mexicans, now you won’t date white guys,’ and things like me being ‘racist against white people.’ ”

Kitch was not contacted again by Bongers until late-November when Bongers wished her a happy birthday via Instagram messaging.

“I tried to call him out on it, and he said it never happened,” Kitch said. “He’d say, ‘I’ve never talked to you. You’re crazy.’ ”

Bongers has not since reached out to Kitch on any social media platforms. According to Kitch, Bongers did not sexually harass her during the incidents.

TMN’s Lexi Gross interviewed FHSU freshman Gracé Glatz, who recalled first meeting Bongers at a local bar in Hays.

“I first met Braden at The Rose, and he asked me to dance, and he seemed like a really nice guy at the start,” Glatz said. “And then he asked me for my Snapchat, so that’s how we started talking.”

That night, Bongers started a conversation with Glatz on the social-media platform.

“He started talking to me through Snapchat, and it was an OK conversation at the start,” Glatz said. “And then he would get really mad. Like, he would send you a Snapchat and if you opened it and, like, left him on read, he would Snapchat you again, and Snapchat you again and Snapchat you again.”

Glatz described the nature of the Snapchat messages.

“A lot of them would be like, ‘Oh, you hate me.’ and ‘Just block me if you’re not going to talk to me.’ ” Glatz said. “They were just really unneeded, I guess, you would say.”

According to Glatz, Bongers became hostile each time a message did not get a response.

“Then, he would call you a bitch,” Glatz said. “And, like, all of these other things.”

Bongers then invited Glatz to attend a local fraternity party with him, stating he could get her in. Glatz then said she did not want to go to the party and was planning to go to Chuck’s, a local Hays bar, later that night. According to Glatz, Bongers would refuse to go to the local bar if she did not dance with him. The two did not see each other that night, and Bongers messaged Glatz the next day.

“He was like, ‘Why didn’t you go to that party with me?’ ” Glatz said. “And I was like, ‘Cause I didn’t want to go to that party with you. I’m fine with going to Chuck’s by myself.’ ”

As recalled by Glatz, the subject of the conversation then changed to race.

“He was like, ‘You’re just racist.’ ” Glatz said. “And I was like, ‘How am I racist?’ and he was like, ‘You’re racist against white people.’ ”

Glatz is Caucasian.

“I was like, ‘How am I racist against my own race?’ ” Glatz said. “And he was like, ‘What do you mean your own race? You’re Mexican.’ ”

Glatz is originally from New Mexico, which she said came up during one of their first conversations. According to Glatz, Bongers continued to accuse her of being racist while calling her several obscene names, which eventually led to Glatz blocking Bongers on Snapchat.

Glatz eventually came into contact with Bongers on social media again, this time on Instagram.

“I posted a video on Instagram, and he was like, ‘You’re hot, bud. But you have a crap personality.’ ” Glatz said. “And I was like, ‘It’s just because I blocked you that you think this.’ ”

When Glatz wanted to retrieve the Instagram messages, she said she noticed the account had been deleted.

Bongers has been arrested on two occasions, once on Feb. 23, 2017, and again on April 5, 2017, according to arrest logs on Salina Post. According to the Saline County Jail, charges included criminal trespassing, stalking and reckless conduct causing fear.

At this time, all allegations involving current or former FHSU students stem from online and social media posts. Multiple online posts from those interviewed for this story and others have been shared with Tiger Media Network. Numerous other online interactions with Bongers from other sources have been posted on social media as well in public platforms. No physical confrontations have been reported.

According to the FHSU Division of Student Affairs, Bongers was enrolled as a student for the Fall 2018 semester; however, Bongers is not currently enrolled for Spring 2019 courses.

Attempts to reach out to Bongers and his family for comment were unsuccessful.

FHSU University Police are aware of the allegations but mentioned Bongers faces no formal charges. The Office of General Counsel could not legally comment on the situation due to student confidentiality.

The University Compliance Office was also unable to release any public information. However, they do encourage students to report any similar concerns or complaints to (785) 628-4175.

For more on staying safe online, visit this link.

Tiger Media Network’s Justin Sabata and Lexi Gross contributed to this report.

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