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Man waives right to hearing in child pornography case

October 05, 2005|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

A Hagerstown man charged with child pornography offenses waived his right to a preliminary hearing Tuesday in Washington County District Court, according to charging documents.

James Michael Whitacre Jr., 32, of 322 S. Mulberry St. in Hagerstown, was charged in July with owning child pornography depicting minors engaged in sexual acts and possessing child pornography, documents state.

On June 24, Whitacre's brother, who was living with Whitacre, called police and said he believed Whitacre was downloading and viewing child pornography on his computer, documents state. The man said he knew his brother regularly looked at pornography on his computer, documents state.

The day before calling police, Whitacre's brother decided to look at the computer and see what Whitacre was looking at, according to documents. As he began to scroll through the downloaded pornography, he saw a file with a man and what appeared to be a 3-year-old child in a shower, documents state. The man was engaged in sexual activity with the child, documents state.

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Believing his brother had downloaded the file by mistake, he scrolled through other files and counted about 10 depicting children in sexual situations, documents state. The children involved all appeared to be younger than 10, according to documents.

On July 1, police officers used a warrant to search Whitacre's home, according to documents. Officers seized two computers and two unmarked CDs, documents state.

Whitacre spoke with officers shortly after the search and said he used a file-sharing program called "Bear Share" to download child pornography, documents state. Whitacre told officers he first viewed child pornography while searching for "Lord of the Rings" on his computer, according to documents.

Whitacre told officers where they could find several pornographic movies involving young children, documents state. The movies, which were found in a hallway closet in Whitacre's house, each were more than one minute long and involved children younger than 10, according to documents.

Officers found more images and movies on Whitacre's computer, documents state. One of the CDs seized as evidence contained 1,238 child pornography files, according to documents.

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