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Court documents indicate accused child molester planning guilty plea

By Joe Beck

A Winchester man facing five counts of participating in the production, possession and transporting of child pornography plans to plead guilty Monday in U.S. District Court in Harrisonburg, according to online court documents.

The case was scheduled for a hearing before Magistrate Judge James G. Welsh after Judge Michael Urbanski said he had learned "that the defendant in this case contemplates the entry of a guilty plea," according to a document filed Friday.

A criminal complaint filed by James G. Galbreath, a special deputy U.S. Marshal, accuses James Robert Cobler, 28, of engaging a child in sex acts "for the purpose of producing one or more visual depictions of such conduct."

The complaint identifies the victim in the case as a 4-year-old boy whom Cobler had been babysitting between September and May at a house in Frederick County.

The fast-moving investigation began April 20 when Investigator Michael R. Wagoner with The Northern Virginia-District of Columbia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force was investigating the sharing of child pornography files on peer-to-peer file sharing networks. The complaint states Wagoner discovered a computer that he suspected to be a possible source of child pornography based on previous keyword searches or hash value searches for files linked to child pornography.

Wagoner downloaded two files with sexually explicit images of a girl performing a sex act with an unknown adult man, according to the complaint. Within a few days, Wagoner had traced the computer to 500 S. Washington St. in Winchester, the complaint states. He and other members of the task force executed a search warrant at the residence on May 3 and found Cobler, and his grandparents at home, according to the complaint. The grandparents have not been charged in the case.

The complaint states Cobler admitted during a police interview that he possessed many images of child pornography and was using peer-to-peer file sharing software to download it. He also admitted to having sexual contact with the 4-year-old boy four times, according to the complaint.

A computer taken during the search of the residence turned up 11 pictures and a video Cobler took of the child, according to the complaint. Other sexually explicit photos of the child appeared on a digital camera seized at the residence, the complaint states.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com

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