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Area man charged in child porn case

Halstead

WORTHINGTON -- A Worthington man who allegedly claimed he is in awe of the human naked body is facing a felony charge of possession of pictorial representation of minors after authorities found hundreds of child pornography photos on his computer flash drive.

David James Halstead, 28, told authorities he is interested in martial arts and wanted to study young human bodies. He considers the pictures art, he alleged.

According to the criminal complaint, the Worthington Police Department received a tip in late October from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) about five possible child pornography images that had been uploaded onto a photo sharing Web site. The tip alleged the person who uploaded the photos went by the screen name "whitedeath@ lycos.com" and "idiot_of_maybee."

A search warrant was executed Thursday, and when officers identified themselves and announced they had a warrant, a voice inside reportedly told them to go away. The officers identified themselves a second time and were again told to go away.

The officers had to use force to open the door. They located Halstead wrapped in a blanket and seated in an office chair in front of a computer desk.

On the desk was a monitor and a computer, with the flash drive in the tower.

Halstead was ordered to the floor and asked who owned the computer. He stated it belonged to his roommate, but the thumb drive was his own. He asked if he could have it back, but was told it would be taken into evidence because it was a storage device.

Halstead told authorities he uses the computer 90 percent of the time and that his roommate hardly ever used it. The roommate confirmed Halstead's statement.

Halstead was asked to come to the law enforcement center at the Prairie Justice Center the following day. He agreed, and again asked if he could have his thumb drive. He was told again that it would go into evidence.

A forensic scan of the thumb drive showed it contained numerous word documents, videos and pictures. A subfolder named "new art" allegedly contained 42 pictures of nude and partially clothed girls in various sexual poses. The girls appeared to be between the ages of 12 and 15. A subfolder in that file contained an additional 600 pictures of young girls.

Halstead arrived at the law enforcement center Friday and an officer explained what had been found on the drive.

Halstead allegedly told the officer he had been around computers since the days of Apple and Commodore green screens, and claimed that on a scale from 1 to 10, his computer knowledge was approximately an 8.

He said he bought the thumb drive a year ago, and started getting pictures around the same time. He identified the site he went to and explained in detail how the pictures were uploaded. He admitted to having approximately "50 pictures of naked kids."

He allegedly admitted he knew it was against the law to have the pictures, so he said he quit doing it.

Bond was set Monday at $10,000, with the condition he have no contact with persons under the age of 18. As of Tuesday afternoon, Halstead was still in the Nobles County Jail.

He has a previous conviction for possession of a small amount of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

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