A Columbus man accused of being in possession of more than 250 digital files of child pornography will spend a minimum of five years behind bars if found guilty of the alleged offenses.
Joshua W. Bates, 37, faces five counts of being in possession of child pornography with previous convictions, a Class IC felony, punishable by up to 50 years imprisonment with a state-mandated five-year minimum. The defendant was previously convicted on similar charges in May 2008 in Douglas County, court records show.
Bates is scheduled to appear on Thursday before Judge Frank Skorupa in Platte County Court.
The case against Bates was jump-started this summer when Columbus Police Sgt. Bret Strecker received information from the Nebraska Internet Crimes Against Children task force that the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children had notified them of a crime that happened locally in Columbus, according to information contained in a warrantless arrest affidavit.
The Center for Missing and Exploited Children was notified by Snapchat, a multimedia messaging application company, that one of its users uploaded unconfirmed child pornography onto his or her account. Both files were sealed and Strecker wrote a search warrant to release them.
The username on that Snapchat account – punkboy2001 – was associated with Bates, who court records show is a registered sex offender being required to be listed on the Nebraska Sex Offender Registry for 25 years.
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Court records show that there are seven other cybertips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that were linked to Bates between 2017 and this year. In every cybertip reported, court records show a singular IP address was used, which was ultimately linked to the defendant after an issued subpoena resulted in the information being released to Strecker.
Strecker was subsequently contacted by an agent working for the Department of Homeland Security who was working a text messaging case regarding a suspect in Columbus – Bates. The Homeland Security agent also completed a subpoena for the same IP address as Strecker, which also led to Bates’ computer, court records show.
A search warrant was issued in the 1700 block of 45th Avenue and several electronics and electronic storage items were seized. This included a laptop computer that was inside of the defendant’s bedroom, court records show. An SD card was located inside of the computer – which court records show Bates said was his – and yielded the numerous alleged child pornography images.
At the time the filed affidavit was written, Strecker said that forensic analysis was still being completed on numerous files. But, at the time, 255 video and still images of child pornography were reportedly found, court records show.
Sam Pimper is the news editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.