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Posted February 9, 2011 | comments Leave a comment

Former Winchester TV-3 reporter pleads to enticement, porn counts

By Alex Bridges -- abridges@nvdaily.com

WINCHESTER -- A former local TV reporter pleaded guilty Tuesday to enticing a 14-year-old girl he met online to have sex, taking indecent liberties with a minor and possessing child pornography in 2009.

Ryan P. O'Connor, 25, of Brooklyn, Conn., appeared in Winchester Circuit Court in the afternoon for a scheduled hearing on motions ahead of a jury trial set to begin Thursday. Instead, O'Connor entered into a plea agreement reached between his attorney, Bryan J. Waldron, and Commonwealth's Attorney Alex R. Iden.

The agreement called for O'Connor to enter guilty pleas to five counts of possession of child pornography and two counts each of using a computer to facilitate crimes involving a girl at least 15 years old and taking indecent liberties with a 14-year-old child.

O'Connor entered the Alford pleas of guilt, in which the defendant maintains innocence but admits the commonwealth probably has enough evidence for a conviction.

O'Connor worked as a reporter for TV-3 Winchester, the local ABC affiliate, and as a waiter at International House of Pancakes before his arrest in September 2009. Neither he nor his attorney would comment after the hearing.

In the months prior to his arrest, according to Iden, law enforcement in a suburb of Chicago became aware of communication between O'Connor and a 14-year-old girl over the Internet. The girl had received a digital photo of a man's penis and police determined the image had been sent from O'Connor's computer, located where he lived at the time in an apartment complex in Winchester, Iden said.

Investigators with the Winchester Police Department and the Frederick County Sheriff's Office on Aug. 31, 2009, executed a search warrant at O'Connor's apartment. Authorities seized four printed photographs found under O'Connor's bed that depicted child pornography, according to Iden. O'Connor admitted to investigators the photographs were his and that he used them for a "self-gratifying technique." A search of O'Connor's computer also revealed photographs taken of an ex-girlfriend who the defendant identified as under 18, Iden said.

O'Connor also admitted to entering online chatrooms to converse with girls 14-18 years old, according to Iden.

The indecent liberties charges stem from the fact that the girl O'Connor propositioned was 14 years old at the time, Iden explained.

O'Connor, in transcripts of online chats with the girl, called her "my darling 15-year-old," the prosecutor said. This resulted in authorities charging O'Connor with use of a computer to commit a crime involving a juvenile female at least 15 years old where the offender is 7 years older than the victim.

"She says, 'you just want someone to [expletive],' then him saying 'LOL,'" Iden said, citing one of the chats.

Judge John Wetsel Jr. accepted the plea agreement after finding the commonwealth showed it had "substantial" evidence in the case. Wetsel ordered O'Connor, who lives with his parents in Connecticut and remains free on bond, to appear in the court March 28 for sentencing. Waldron noted his client has no prior criminal record.

Under the agreement, the court amended four of O'Connor's counts of possession of child pornography from second to first offenses, thereby reducing the maximum sentence he could serve for the crime.

Under the agreement, Wetsel dismissed O'Connor's remaining charges of possession of child pornography.

O'Connor could receive up to 20 years for each conviction of indecent liberties and computer sex solicitation and 10 years for possession of child pornography, according to Wetsel.

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