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Reporter denied bond on charges

Man accused of solicitating sex from teenage girl

By Alex Bridges -- abridges@nvdaily.com

WINCHESTER -- A former TV reporter accused of soliciting sex from a 14-year-old girl over the Internet remains jailed without bond.

Ryan O'Connor

Ryan P. O'Connor appeared in Winchester Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court for a bond hearing Tuesday morning. Judge William Sharp denied O'Connor's request for bond but said he would appoint an attorney to represent him. O'Connor remains incarcerated at the Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center.

Police arrested O'Connor, 23, of 600 Pemberton Drive, Apt. 5, Winchester, on Monday and charged him with four counts of possession of child pornography and one count each taking indecent liberties with a minor and using a computer in commission of the crimes.

The defendant acknowledged he has no prior felony or misdemeanor convictions and asked for bond.

"I think just because of the lack of history, I would request a minimal bond if at all possible," O'Connor said.

Sharp told O'Connor the charges carry "a presumption that you should be held without bond."

If convicted, O'Connor faces up to 40 years on all charges.

Possession of child pornography is a class 6 felony punishable by up to five years in prison. Soliciting sex from a minor by using a computer and taking indecent liberties with a child, both class 5 felonies, carry 10-year maximum prison terms, the judge told O'Connor.

O'Connor moved to the area from Connecticut in September 2008 and began working at ABC affiliate TV3 Winchester in October, he told the judge. In July, O'Connor started a second job working at IHOP, but he did not say which location. Sharp first told O'Connor he was not eligible for a court-appointed attorney but then said he would appoint counsel given the fact that the defendant is being held without bond.

The judge set a preliminary hearing in O'Connor's case for Sept. 30.

As of Monday, TV3's Web site indicated O'Connor no longer worked for the station. O'Connor had been on the board of directors of the Winchester-Frederick-Clarke Crime Solvers, but the organization's Web site no longer included him on its member list as of Tuesday.

At the end of the hearing, O'Connor asked the judge to place a gag order on his case due to the nature of his employment. Sharp did not grant the request but said he would "entertain such a motion" if O'Connor's attorney were to file one.

The investigation began more than a month ago after authorities received reports accusing O'Connor of sending lewd pictures of himself to a 14-year-old girl in Illinois, according to Winchester police Sgt. Amanda Baker.

"In March and April 2009, the suspect ... was chatting online in AOL/AIM with the female victim who is 14 years of age and resides in Rolling Meadows, Ill.," an affidavit for a search warrant filed in the court states. "The suspect e-mailed three images of himself to the victim. One image shows the suspect's face and in one image, the suspect is exposing his genitals."

Winchester police detective Karen Dew traced the online chats to O'Connor using Internet protocol numbers and through records provided by America Online and Comcast, documents show.

Investigators executed a search warrant at O'Connor's apartment Monday where they seized computers, equipment, electronic media, a digital camera, Apple iPods and a pair of pajamas, according to the inventory. They also found four printed photographs of "prepubescent females with their vaginal areas exposed" under a mattress in O'Connor's bedroom.

"During an interview with O'Connor, who waived his Miranda rights, he admitted the images were his and were sent to him by a female he communicated with online," the complaint states. "O'Connor estimated the female to be 14 years of age."

O'Connor was "very cooperative" with the investigators, according to the complaint.

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