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Suspect charged in child porn case; images traded on popular app

(WBAY)
Published: Apr. 5, 2018 at 11:48 AM CDT
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A New Franken man has been charged with 10 counts of child pornography and one count of child enticement, accused of having dozens of images of child porn on his devices.

Jason A. Pristelski, 41, was arrested April 3 as result of an undercover operation targeting solicitation of child porn and sexual assaults of minors in Brown County.

"He has anywhere from, I think we saw toddler age all the way up to 15 or 16 years," said Sgt. Matt Wilson, Brown County Sheriff's Office Internet Crimes Against Children division.

Pristelski made an initial appearance in Brown County court Thursday. The court ordered a $75,000 cash bond.

A criminal complaint obtained by Action 2 News includes a statement given by Pristelski to investigators. Pristelski's statement says there were images of girls on his phone between the ages of 10 and 16, and some under the age of 10. Pristelski states that he's a member of multiple chat rooms and groups on the Kik messaging app.

Pristelski gave consent to search his phone, iPad and a laptop computer.

"In order to get into these groups, I had to send photographs to other members," Pristelski states. He says he's sent photos of underage girls about six times to other Kik members to get into the groups.

This started as an undercover online investigation.

"This one spun off Craigslist where we had one of our analysts here at the sheriff's office respond to a Craigslist ad and that gentleman ultimately made arrangements to meet what he thought was a 15-year old girl for sexual intercourse at a gas station here in Brown County," Sgt. Wilson says.

Officers scheduled a meet up with Pristelski and found him to be in possession of child pornography.

"In the course of the investigation we found child pornography on his cellphone, his iPad and we still have some follow up investigation to do with other computers and stuff, but he's got child pornography on his cell phone," Wilson says.

Investigators searched electronic devices and believe there are more victims out there.

"There was over 100 known images, but in total images on his cellphone, I think we're still digging through about over 48,000 images," Wilson says.

Investigators have identified child victims who are not local.

They've also identified six adult victims.

"Other victims locally and one out of the state, have sent him nude images of themselves to him and he's actually redistributed it out to other amateur pornography websites without their permission and without their knowledge," Wilson says. "So we're in the course of, right now, trying to connect with some of those females to make contact with them to let them know these images are out there, as well as to try to talk to them about being victims in this case as well."

The Brown County Sheriff's Office believes there may be "multiple" adult victims and two or more child victims in the area who had contact with Pristelski.

Investigators are asking for those who believe they may have sent personal information to Pristelski to call Lt. Jim Valley at (920) 448-6216.

"We're looking for people to come forward. If you've had a relationship with him, intimate, or you've sent him some sort of intimate photos and you know him and you've known to send him that, we're looking for a call to the sheriff's office, just so we can see if you gave him permission to have these photographs as well as if you gave him permission to redistribute these photographs on the internet," Wilson says.

Sharing nude images without a person's permission is illegal in Wisconsin under the Revenge Porn Law.

"It's now a crime. Basically the revenge pornography crime law that went into effect a couple years ago where you cannot redistribute somebody's nude image without their permission," Wilson says.

Pristelski got child porn images from the Kik app, which is free to use.

"That's just a messaging application where anybody can go on, make up a name and then obviously send out images, videos," Wilson says. "You can chat with people. It's one of a hundred messaging applications on a cell phone and he obtained all those images and videos from that application."

Craigslist recently took down its personals section, but officials say criminals will continue to find new ways to distribute child pornography and take part in human trafficking.

"The demand for not only children on the internet, but females or males, is so high, whether it's on Craigslist or Backpage or any other site, it's going to, they take one down and five more are going to pop up. It doesn't matter," Wilson says.

Sgt. Wilson says predators are able to give the appearance that they are the average member of society. They want to fit in.

"A lot of these predators, they're known to blend in. Even if they look creepy or act creepy in one way that's going to bring attention towards them, these guys want to blend in with regular society," Wilson says.

"They have regular jobs, they're probably involved in some sort of relationship just to make everything look normal. But obviously they're getting sucked into the dark web or the apps where there's child pornography being floated around and they want to just blend in. They don't want to be known to anybody. They just want to act like any regular day, normal citizen."

Pristelski's next court appearance is scheduled for April 19. Prosecutors say he is facing additional charges related to the revenge porn law cases.

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