Judge Rules On Child Pornography Evidence

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With trial less than a month away, Judge Peter Cahill on Monday had to determine which pictures and videos found on a 73-year-old man’s computer and flash drives qualify as child pornography.

Judge Cahill, Payson Police Det. Matt VanCamp and attorneys laboriously went through each photograph that county prosecutors hope to submit during trial.

After viewing each one on VanCamp’s laptop computer, Cahill ruled whether it met the definition of child pornography. The images were not shown to the rest of the courtroom.

The man’s defense attorney, Michael Bernays, objected every time.

However, Cahill repeatedly overruled Bernays’ objection and said, “This image surely is child porn.”

More than 18 months ago, a grand jury indicted the 73-year-old Payson resident on 20 counts of possessing electronic images of minors engaged in sexual acts or content.

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

Computer technicians reportedly found the photos when the man turned it over for virus removal in October 2009. Employees reported the images to police because many contained children between 8 and 12 years old.

This wasn’t the first time the man had work done on his computer. Technicians said they had repaired it at least two other times, but this was the only time they had found explicit files.

During a search of the man’s home, officers allegedly found several flash drives, floppy disks and CDs. At least one of the flash drives had 222 files on it, with labels including “thirteen years,” “kinder virgin” and “illegal pre-teen,” said VanCamp.

“All of the images are illegal under sexual exploitation of a minor,” he said in a police report.

VanCamp and Chief Don Engler also found several print outs in the man’s office, including “How to hide porn on your computer” and information on how to unlock encrypted files.

During the search, the man continually told officers the images were from a virus, “that he had nothing to do with it, that he did not download any images and 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,” VanCamp said.

Regarding the print outs, the man told VanCamp they were “just something interesting he had found on the Internet.”

Later, when VanCamp had time to process the evidence, he noticed several images were duplicated on as many as three devices found in the man’s home or work.

Prosecutor Ramai Alvarez said Monday that the file “huss fan” was on three flash drives in the man’s home.

The video “babysitter abuse” was duplicated on a flash drive found at his work.

Bernays questioned the definition of child pornography as Cahill viewed the images.

“When you see it, you know it,” said Alvarez.

According to statute, child pornography is “any visual depiction in which a minor is engaged in exploitive exhibition or other sexual conduct.”

Alvarez said they do not plan to show the images or videos to jurors during trial. After the case, the county will seal the evidence.

As VanCamp showed Cahill each image, Bernays said some could be a child at a nudist colony, not child pornography.

When Cahill was shown a photograph of a young child pinching their genitals, he said it clearly met the definition of child pornography.

The six-day jury trial starts July 19 at 9:30 a.m. in Globe.

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