Credit: Stock photo | Pexels

A Burnham man will spend 15 years in prison after pleading guilty in October to using the internet to access child pornography with the intent to view it.

David L. Cook, 61, also was sentenced to 10 years of supervised release after he serves his prison term for the crime, according to a release issued this week from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maine. Because Cook had a prior qualifying conviction, he faced a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison.

The Maine State Police Computer Crimes Unit investigation into Cook’s activities began in August 2016, when police received a report from Microsoft that a user on one of its forums had uploaded a single image of child pornography, according to the U.S. government’s version of the offense, a document filed last year at U.S. District Court. The technology company provided the Internet Protocol, or IP address, that was used to download the image, and law enforcement officers used a subpoena to identify the internet subscriber and physical address associated with that address.

In September 2016, the computer crimes unit then obtained a search warrant for Cook’s home in Burnham, and went to his residence. According to the government’s report on the offense, Cook told investigators that he has a sexual interest in girls between 4 and 12 years old.

“He said that he uses the internet to view sexually explicit images of children but does not download the images,” Richard W. Murphy, then acting U.S. attorney, wrote in the document.

Investigators took Cook’s desktop computer and found more than 30 images of child pornography on the hard drive. They also checked his internet cache, where browser software automatically saves the content of visited websites, and found that on dozens of occasions between March 31, 2016, and Aug. 27, 2016, Cook had used internet browsers to access websites and view files with names that indicated they were child pornography.

The case was investigated by the Maine State Police Computer Crimes Unit and U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations. It was part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat child sexual exploitation and abuse, according to a press release issued this week. The project brings together federal, state and local resources to find and prosecute people who exploit children via the internet, as well as to identify and assist victims.

If you or someone you know needs resources or support related to sexual violence, contact the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault’s 24/7 hotline at 800-871-7741.