Commonwealth Journal

November 27, 2012

FBI report details child porn charges against Whitson

Agents reveal evidence

by Heather Tomlinson
Commonwealth Journal

Somerset —  

A federal arrest warrant and accom-panying documentation has been made available in the case of a Somerset man accused of possessing child pornography. 
Eric Whitson, 35, was arrested Wednesday, November 21 by Somerset Police Department detectives and agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation at his home on Cooper Drive. Authorities were carrying out a federal arrest warrant based on evidence of child pornography allegedly found on items taken from Whitson’s home during a search. 
Whitson was arrested on a federal warrant charging with him production of child pornography, possession of child pornography, and receipt of child pornography, according to electronic court records.
That arrest warrant was based on a number of pieces of evidence detailed in an affidavit by FBI Special Agent Thad Lambdin. 
The arrest came after a two-week joint investigation conducted by SPD and the FBI, which began on November 5 after SPD received a complaint from an alleged adult victim who stated he’d discovered a camera in Whitson’s bathroom.
The complaint led to a search warrant being carried out at Whitson’s residence. 
Lambdin’s affidavit states that the hidden camera allegedly discovered by the victim — and later obtained by authorities — was “concealed in a black box that sat atop the tank portion of the toilet.” The camera was allegedly placed in a position where a person could be captured from the waist down. 
The affidavit states that the recording “could also be viewed in real time from Whitson’s bedroom on a monitor.”
Authorities allegedly found a videotaped recording of a 16-year-old male who used the bathroom in Whitson’s home, along with a recording of the victim who made the original complaint.
Along with the recording device, SPD also obtained through a second search warrant computers and multiple forms of digital storage. SPD officers and detectives “searched through hours of VHS tapes, DVDs, and CD-ROMs and found images suspected to be child pornography,” according to Lt. Shannon Smith, with SPD. 
The federal affidavit detailed six images discovered during a search of the files, all of which allegedly showed young males in sexual positions. The affidavit states that those images detailed in the document are not all of the pieces of evidence found by investigators. 
“Based on a preliminary review of a small portion of the digital media recovered from Whitson’s residence, multiple images of pre-pubescent boys engaged in sexually explicit conduct were found,” states Lambdin through the affidavit. “Based on the file names, visual content, and digital characteristics of those images, Whitson knowingly received those by accessing the internet through a computer.
“The images, based on those same characteristics, were produced and then transmitted in interstate commerce using a computer,” continues Lambdin. 
Whitson is lodged in the  Laurel County Detention Center. He will be arraigned in U.S. District Court.