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Mercer man on trial for federal child pornography charges

Allegations of producing or possessing child pornography often lead to the question of whether investigators had the right to access images on a computer and subsequently charge a person in connection with those images. Factual issues may also arise, such as whether or not a person accused of producing child pornography is really the person depicted in a video or picture.

Because of the nature of the Internet, allegations related to the distribution of child pornography often carry a federal status, and Pennsylvania residents accused of Internet crimes can face state and federal charges.

These issues are likely to come up in the trial of a 55-year-old man from Mercer County. A federal prosecutor claims that, two years ago, the man was involved in the sexual abuse of three girls. Jurors were shown a video and a photo, and the prosecutor asserted that the defendant's hand can be seen in the photo, and that the defendant's voice is audible in the video.

A federal grand jury indicted the man in December 2012, accusing him of one count of possession of child pornography and six counts of production of child pornography.

In addition to the federal allegations, the defendant is facing 27 charges at the state level.

Police were reportedly investigating another Mercer man when they interviewed the man now facing federal charges. The man who initially caught the attention of investigators was convicted of federal and state crimes related to child pornography, and he was sentenced to 35 years in federal prison and 8.5 to 20 years in state prison. The two terms are to be served consecutively.

It remains to be seen whether investigators followed proper procedure and obtained legitimate evidence against the Mercer County man now being tried in federal court.

Source:, "Federal trial begins of Mercer County man charged with producing child pornography," Brian Bowling, Jan. 21, 2014

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