A 47-year-old DuBois man, who faces 40 felony counts of child pornography waived his right to a preliminary hearing May 9 before District Judge Patrick Ford of DuBois.
On April 25, the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office filed the charges, in addition to one felony count of criminal use of communication facility, against Benjamin Vernon Johnson, 37 Pentz Run Ave., DuBois.
Johnson remains in the Clearfield County Jail in lieu of $50,000 bail.
On Dec. 4, 2018, the AG’s office began an investigation after they were given a CyberTipline report submitted by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children after it was alerted by Google Inc. that five images and videos containing suspected child pornography were uploaded and posted online and then traced to an Internet address at 37 Pentz Ave., according to a criminal complaint filed at Ford’s office.
On April 23, the AG obtained a search warrant for 37 Pentz Run Ave., DuBois, Sandy Township. Johnson and his mother were both home at the time the agent entered the residence, the complaint said.
Johnson was told that the AG was conducting an investigation into illegal Internet activity and Johnson agreed to have the conversation audio recorded. Later, Johnson became nervous and the recording was shut off. Johnson reportedly said he lives at the residence full-time with his mother. No one else has lived there since approximately November 2018.
During the interview, Johnson said he does not have a cell phone, but does have a tablet. One of the agents reportedly located two tablets in Johnson’s bedroom, both passcode protected. When asked if Johnson could provide the password to the tablets, Johnson remained silent.
Johnson reportedly told the agent he got into things he shouldn’t have and should have erased it. He said he could not recall the website name to which he went, however, he would type in keywords to get the images and video files of child pornography.
According to the complaint, Johnson said the reason he views child pornography is “because he is trying to get rid of urges of beings a hands-on offender of children.” Johnson also reportedly said he would store child pornography images on CDs/DVDs and said they were in a CD case in his bedroom. Agents located the CD case and Johnson reportedly confirmed that the discs it contained were the CDs which would contain child pornography.
The complaint also said that Johnson was attempting to get a password for a protected file on a website by sending child pornography. Johnson reportedly said he knows that possessing child pornography is illegal and has been fearful that he would be caught with it.
Johnson also reportedly said he used a social media application to chat with other adults to exchange pictures of children engaged in sexual acts. Furthermore, he reportedly admitted that he joins teen chat rooms, the complaint said.
In a preview of Johnson’s tablet as well as the writable CD/DVDs, at least 40 images and videos of apparent child pornography were located, the complaint said. Of those images, at least 20 that depicted children engaged in indecent contact were located, the complaint said.
Several devices reportedly were seized and transported to the Computer Forensics Unit’s secured evidence room for further analysis.