Man accused of having child porn

Jun. 30—A former Sandy Lake resident is facing nearly 400 counts of possessing child pornography following an investigation by state police

Michael Jeffrey Hughes, 37, Pittsburgh, was charged Wednesday by state police with two counts each of disseminating a photo or film of child sex acts and criminal use of a communication facility and 383 counts of child pornography.

He is free on $50,000 bond after being arraigned Thursday before District Judge Douglas Straub, Pine Township. His preliminary hearing is set for 9:30 a.m. July 27 with Straub.

Cpl. Bernard Novak of the Pennsylvania State Police Northwest Computer Crime Task Force received a tip Sept. 28 from Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC), police said in court documents.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children had provided ICAC with a report that came from Kik Messenger — an instant messaging mobile app.

Kik reported that a user had uploaded child porn onto its servers. The service had captured the suspect’s internet protocol address.

Novak and state trooper Kirsten Zelechowski reviewed the files and confirmed that they they contained child pornography.

The state police subpoenaed an internet provider, which confirmed that the IP address was connected to an apartment in Sandy Lake. Police met Jan. 13 with the landlord, who provided a list of tenants.

The list did not include the name of the person who lives in the apartment or the name of the person who had been using Kik at the apartment.

Police did an internet search of the suspect’s user name provided by Kik, which led them to information about Hughes. Police obtained a search warrant for two of the apartments where Hughes was living.

Hughes told police Jan. 14 that he shares internet and Wi-Fi with two other apartments. He provided his email addresses and user names and confirmed that he uses Kik and a few other apps.

Hughes denied sexually assaulting any children or taking inappropriate videos and pictures.

According to the criminal complaint, police said Hughes told them that he was using Kik to talk with others when someone sent him child porn, and he went down the “rabbit hole.”

Police seized a cell phone and laptop from his apartment. A forensic search revealed 383 images and videos of child porn and nudity, police said.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Suspects are considered to be innocent until proven guilty or adjudicated in a court of law.

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