By Alex Bridges -- firstname.lastname@example.org
Federal authorities accuse a Winchester man of sexually exploiting children since September, according to documents filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court.
A criminal complaint charges James Robert Cobler, 27, with a last known address of 500 S. Washington St., Winchester, with committing sexual exploitation of children by using a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct later depicted in child pornography.
Cobler remains in federal custody and is scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court on June 5.
The alleged crime occurred between September 2011 and May, according to the complaint filed by James C. Galbreath, an investigator with the Frederick County Sheriff's Office assigned to the Northern Virginia-District of Columbia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
Investigator Michael R. Wagoner, of the Page County Sheriff's Office and the task force, conducted an investigation on April 20 into the sharing of child pornography through a publicly available peer-to-peer file sharing network, according to Galbreath's affidavit filed with the complaint. Wagoner identified a computer using a specific Internet Protocol Address as a "potential download candidate" for at least 94 files of investigative interest as possibly containing child pornography and/or child abuse material previously logged by the task force, Galbreath states. The computer previously had been detected as associated with investigative files of interest by other investigators.
Wagoner downloaded two files from the computer and, along with Galbreath, determined the images appeared to depict child pornography, according to the affidavit. The images involved a subject who appeared to be a 4-year-old girl and the other a prebuscent girl, Galbreath states.
Wagoner searched the Domain Name System through the American Registry for Internet Numbers and found the address registed to Verizon Online LLC, according to Galbreath. Wagoner downloaded another file from the same address and the image depicted child pornography involving two prebuscent male children, the affidavit states.
Through a subpoena to Verizon, Wagoner learned the Internet Protocol Address returned to a subscriber at 500 S. Washington St., according to the affidavit. Wagoner, Galbreath and other members of the task force executed a search warrant at the home and encountered Robert D. and Donna H. Lancaster as well as Cobler, identified as the couple's grandson, according to the affidavit. Investigators interviewed Cobler.
"Cobler admitted to possessing numerous images of child pornography, and using the P2P file sharing software that was used during the above-referenced downloads," the affidavit states. "Cobler indicated that he was aware of the fact that the files, including the child pornography images that were in his 'shared' folder were available for download by others using the peer-to-peer network."
Cobler also admitted that he had had sexual contact on four separate occasions with a 4-year-old boy whom he had babysat, according to Galbreath. The child's mother told investigators Cobler had babysat the boy since mid September, Galbreath notes. On those occasions Cobler admitted to investigators he committed sexual acts with the child, according to the affidavit, and took approximately 10 photographs of the incidents. Cobler admitted to taking a video of himself performing a sex act with the child, the affidavit states. Galbreath notes that Cobler told investigators he created a folder on his computer using the child's first name and placed the photographs and video in the folder.
Agents seized a digital camera and a laptop computer from the residence. Wagoner examined the laptop and found the folder marked with the child's name and found in it 11 photographs and one, 52-second video, according to Galbreath. Wagoner found three more images on the camera, Galbreath states.
Galbreath met with the child depicted in the photographs and video on May 3. The child's parents identified the boy's room in the background of the images, according to Galbreath.