Child Porn Bust

Computer tech report of photos prompts arrest

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A tip to police from a computer technician led to the arrest Monday of a 72-year-old Payson man on charges of sexual exploitation of a minor.

The man posted $15,000 bond and was released earlier this week.

On Wednesday, a grand jury raised the total number of counts to 10 and set a $100,000 bond. Police rearrested the man Thursday afternoon and booked him into the Gila County Jail, said Payson Police Detective Matt Van Camp.

Gila County Attorney Daisy Flores said she would not provide any further details as to the status of the case. A court date had not been set as of Thursday.

It is the Roundup’s policy not to name victims or suspects in sex crimes. Suspects will be identified after a conviction.

Police reportedly uncovered several images of underage girls on the man’s computer after a computer technician discovered the images while trying to get rid of viruses on the machine.

A police report gave the following account of the incident:

On Oct. 2, the man called a computer company to request work on his computer. A technician went to man’s home, but couldn’t fix the problem there — so he took the machine back to the computer shop.

At the computer shop, several technicians looked through the computer files and found what they described as pornographic pictures in the backup folder of the data drive.

The technicians said the girls pictured appeared to be between 8 and 12 years old and “that the pictures appeared to be actual photos that were scanned onto the computer.”

Van Camp asked the technician how many images they had seen and the technician said “that there were more than they ever wanted to try to count; that it made him sick to his stomach.”

Van Camp received a search warrant Monday for the man’s home in southwest Payson as well as his workplace.

Around 2:15 p.m., Van Camp, Det. Michael McAnerney and Chief Don Engler met the man at his home.

Van Camp explained why they were there and the man said that at least 50 images of young girls in sexual acts had started popping up on his screen after he searched for “Disney” and “Ariel” for his granddaughter, and told officers “that he had no control over it.”

The man also said that his computer was downloading photos from the Internet on its own without his knowledge.

After speaking with the man, Van Camp and McAnerney began searching a home office for evidence.

Van Camp spotted a coffee cup full of flash drives. Using a department-issued laptop, Van Camp looked through each flash drive. Ten of the flash drives had nothing on them, but one had several pictures of young girls under 18 years old, the police report states.

Engler did a walk-through of the home and then went to the office and began looking through a filing cabinet.

Engler said he noticed several documents Van Camp had collected, including a paper titled, “How to hide porn on your computer” and another showing how to find images of young girls.

Several times during the search, the man asked Engler what was going on and Engler showed the man the search warrant.

“He said he didn’t understand as he had been searching on the Internet and ‘pop ups’ had started coming and he was unable to stop them,” Engler said in the police report.

After searching the home, Van Camp arrested the man on charges of sexual exploitation of a minor and took him to the police department.

“I found it unusual that he did not protest the arrest and in fact didn’t even seem surprised by the arrest,” Engler said.

Back at the station, Van Camp interviewed the man, who insisted he had nothing to do with the images and that they appeared because of a virus. He also said “that the flash drive found in the coffee cup in his residence was a flash drive from his work that somebody had probably put on his desk.”

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