A third Washington County man has been arrested on child pornography charges by investigators with the state attorney general’s child predator unit.
Matthew C. Cooper, 24, of 160 Paris-Colliers Road, Hanover Township, was arrested Tuesday by agents after a search warrant was served at his home and files of child pornography were found on his computer.
On March 5, a special agent in the unit was conducting an online Internet investigation to identify those possessing and sharing child pornography using a peer-to-peer file sharing network. The program allows files to be downloaded directly from the host computer.
The agent located a computer sharing files of suspected child pornography. Between March 5 and 13, the agent was able to make direct connection with the host computer and download files that appeared to depict children under the age of 18 engaged in sex acts or poses.
Investigators determined the Internet address was assigned to Verizon Internet Services. On April 23, the agent received a court order directing Verizon to release information regarding the user. Verizon responded the following day with the information listing the subscriber as Cooper’s mother.
On Tuesday, agents searched the Cooper residence and confiscated two laptop computers, a hard drive from a desktop computer, flash drive, and Apple iPod Touch.
During the search, some of the devices were previewed or examined by qualified computer forensic examiners who reportedly found child pornography media files.
During an interview with agents, Cooper reportedly admitted to searching for, downloading and viewing child pornography through a file sharing program. Cooper also reportedly acknowledged to agents that he knew what he was viewing was “wrong” and that he had tried to quit. Agents said he was reportedly in the process of trying to download more child pornography when investigators arrived.
Awaiting trial on similar charges are Christopher W. Welshans, 37, 53 Fourth St., Atlasburg, and Richard Mollenkopf, 40, of 300 Annuity Drive, South Franklin Township. Both are free on bond.
Cooper was arraigned before District Judge Gary Havelka on charges of distribution of child pornography, possession of child pornography and criminal use of a communication facility. He was placed in Washington County Jail on $50,000 bond. A preliminary hearing is set for May 22 before Havelka.