A Marietta man was arrested Friday after Washington County Sheriff's deputies say they discovered pornographic images of children on a computer at his residence during the execution of a search warrant on Wednesday.
Richard A. Hill, 38, of 51 Putnam Place Apartments, was charged with two second-degree felony counts of pandering sexually oriented material of a minor. Second-degree felonies carry a maximum possible sentence of eight years in prison.
Additional charges against Hill could be coming as the investigation remains ongoing.
"We're going to review the evidence, and that evidence will be submitted to the Washington County Prosecutor," said Washington County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Mark Warden.
The investigation into Hill has been ongoing for several months after deputies received a tip.
As a result of that tip, police were able to gather enough information for a search warrant, which was executed Wednesday evening, culminating in the seizure of a computer on which were found multiple illegal images of children.
"I located multiple images and videos which depict children in various sex acts with other children and adults," said Washington County Sheriff's Sgt. Scott Parks.
Upon execution of the search warrant Wednesday, Hill told police that he did use a file-sharing network and was the owner of a computer in the residence.
Hill declined to answer any questions involving whether or not he had possessed child pornography, police said.
Based on a preliminary investigation, Warden said he did not believe that any of the images found on the computer were of local children.
All of the images appeared to be of pre-teenage children.
Hill has initially been charged for possession of two images, which depict an 8 to 10-year-old female child naked.
"These are very young children," Warden said.
The several- month investigation was a joint effort between the sheriff's office with the assistance of Marietta Police.
Hill's attorney, Dennis Sipe, said he has not had a chance to review all the facts of the case but does not believe the charges against his client are correct.
"From what I know talking with my client, we have not violated any laws in the state of Ohio," Sipe said.
Sipe said that police seized two computers during the search warrant, which were both purchased already used by Hill.
He also said the pandering charge can mean several different things, including that an individual buys, procures, possesses or controls the contraband.
Sexual abuse of children, particularly online pornography, has soared in recent years.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, online child pornography and child sexual exploitation investigations accounted for 38 percent of the FBI's Cyber Division investigations in 2005.
More than 20,000 images of child pornography are posted online every week, according to the FBI and 20 percent of all Internet pornography involves children.
The U.S. Customs Service estimates there are more than 100,000 websites that offer illegal child pornography.
Locally, Friday's arrest wasn't a rarity either.
On June 8, Daron L. Voshel, 35, of 2626 Barth Road, Belpre, was arrested by Marietta Police on charges he possessed illegal photographs of two nude boys on his laptop computer.
"This is just one of many cases that we have worked where child pornography has been the subject of the investigation," Parks said.
Hill is scheduled for arraignment on Monday in Marietta Municipal Court. Bond had not yet been set as of Friday afternoon.