PORTLAND, Maine — A Westbrook man was charged with possession of child pornography Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Portland after a special agent with the Department of Homeland Security discovered him downloading and sharing videos using file-sharing software, according to court documents.
Joel Dudley, 28, said after he was arrested on Monday that he had downloaded an estimated 500 to 600 videos of child pornography “out of curiosity,” according to an affidavit supporting a criminal complaint filed with the court. The Westbrook man said he would delete the videos after viewing them, and he periodically erased his storage drive using “Department of Defense-grade” wiping software, the document said.
Dudley is the father of three girls between the ages of 3 and 8, who were in his custody, according to an application for a search and seizure warrant of the Westbrook man’s apartment.
Investigators frequently inform the Department of Health and Human Services when children live with an individual charged with possession of pornography, according to Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine State Police. Whether the children have been removed from Dudley’s home could not be determined due to privacy laws that seal DHHS cases concerning children from the public.
Homeland Security agent Martin Conley found that Dudley allegedly downloaded three videos of child pornography between May 8 and July 4 using a file-sharing computer program called Ares. One of the videos showed an 8-year-old girl being sexual molested by a woman in her 20s, and the two others portrayed preteen girls engaging in sexual acts, according to court documents.
During the investigation, Saco police Detective Fred Williams reportedly found videos on a DVD of children engaging in sexual acts. The DVD was located on a desk in the office next to Dudley’s bedroom, according to the criminal complaint.
Conley was able to track Dudley using a modified version of the peer-to-peer software that allowed the agent to see an individual computer downloading the videos, according to the application for a search warrant. A grand jury subpoena was submitted to Dudley’s Internet service provider, which confirmed he was one of its users.
The Westbrook man said he ran a computer salvage and repair business called D & W Services out of his apartment — and sometimes from an office in Gray — which accounts for the large amount of computer equipment found on the premises by investigators, according to the complaint. Dudley said that “several other individuals had access to the entire apartment and the computer equipment inside the apartment.”
U.S. Magistrate Judge John Rich III on Tuesday ordered that Dudley temporarily be held without bail. The defendant is scheduled to appear in federal court in Portland on Aug. 27 for a bail hearing.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office has asked that Dudley be held without bail pending the outcome of his case.
If convicted, Dudley faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.