Sentencing is set in child porn case

A Warren Township man admitted Wednesday in Washington County Common Pleas Court to having sexually explicit images of children on his computer.

Steven C. Kehl, 44, of 625 Bramblewood Heights Road, pleaded guilty to the fourth-degree felony count of pandering sexually oriented material involving a minor.

Kehl turned himself in May 29 “to get the matter off his chest” after reportedly accessing child pornography for six years, said Washington County Assistant Prosecutor Alison Cauthorn.

“He appeared at the Washington County Sheriff’s Office of his own initiation and met with Detective Sgt. Scott Parks,” said Cauthorn.

Kehl acknowledged he had used his two computers to access pornography involving minors from 2006 to 2012. He told detectives he could not remember where he accessed the photos and videos but estimated he had accessed at least 20 videos involving child pornography.

The sheriff’s office conducted a forensic analysis on the computers and found more than 150 images and videos, some involving children as young as 4 of 5 years old involved in sexual acts with adult males.

Kehl reportedly thought he had received a virus that is a ploy to get computer users viewing child pornography to pay a fee to avoid prosecution, said Cauthorn.

Kehl was never indicted. He pleaded guilty to a bill of information on the fourth-degree felony.

The plea agreement includes the stipulation that the state will agree not to pursue additional charges out of the incident.

Investigators do not believe any local children are involved in the images or videos.

However, if local victims were found, they would not be subject to the plea agreement.

Further stipulations of the plea agreement are that Kehl will be evaluated and undergo recommended counseling by L&P Services, and he will forfeit his two computers, which he has already turned over to investigators.

Washington County Common Pleas Court Judge Ed Lane asked Kehl if he understood he was agreeing to give up ownership of the computers, which Kehl indicated he understood.

Lane continued Kehl’s bond, a $5,000 cash bond which he has already posted and a personal recognizance bond.

Sentencing is scheduled for 8 a.m. Oct. 22. Kehl could receive up to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine, but he is also eligible for community control.