CEDAR CITY – After a lengthy investigation between the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and Cedar City Police Department, a Cedar City man, who is an employee at a local troubled youth school, was arrested Sept. 3 and charged with two first-degree felony counts of aggravated child sexual abuse and 10 second-degree felony counts of sexual exploitation of a minor.
Since his arrest, the man has posted bond and been released from jail.
When 32-year-old Chad Ryan Huntsman was taken into custody, Cedar City Police Lt. Darin Adams said, he was allegedly in possession of pornographic digital images of multiple children, including one he knew personally.
Some of the images that were seized as evidence depicted Huntsman committing sexual acts with a 3-year-old child, Adams said. It was for those images that Huntsman incurred the aggravated child sexual abuse charges.
“The aggravation comes when there is a position of special trust between the perpetrator and the victim,” Adams said, “and that could include a whole host of different things, from an adoptive parent to a babysitter or a coach, counselor, a doctor or physician, an employer, a stepparent, etc.”
Adams would not disclose Huntsman’s relationship to the child in question in the interest of protecting the child’s identity from the public.
The case took nearly two months of investigative police work before it came to fruition, Adams said, explaining that it was a cooperative effort that began with a tip from the ICAC, which is based in Salt Lake City and specializes in this particular type of criminal investigation.
CCPD has two officers who are affiliated with ICAC and were trained specifically to work these types of cases when they come up, Adams said.
“The tip that we received was possession of child pornography,” he said.
The process for gaining probable cause to arrest someone for these kinds of crimes can be lengthy, Adams said, because of the digital technology involved and the underground nature of the crime.
“It is a difficult crime to discover and it does take time to follow through on, because you’re talking about computer systems and IP addresses and all of these things,” he said.
The crime was first unearthed by an Internet data storage company, which reported it to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children on July 6, according to a probable cause statement filed by CCPD in support of Huntsman’s arrest.
The company informed the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children of the dates and times the child abuse material was uploaded to Huntsman’s account, the statement said, along with the IP address that was used for each incident.
Once CCPD receives such a tip, Adams said, they have to follow the lead and acquire as much information as possible to take to the Iron County Attorney’s Office in order to get a probable cause warrant.
A total of 156 images were sent to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children from Huntsman’s data storage account, and each image was reviewed by the CCPD.
“All 156 images are of nude prepubescent female children being raped by adult men and/or sexually exploited,” the probable cause statement reported.
An in-depth investigation was conducted to locate where the images were being stored, Adams said; interviews were then conducted to help build enough probable cause to be able to seize Huntsman’s equipment for forensic investigation.
During the course of research, the probable cause statement reported, investigators found that one IP address used for downloading child pornography was an iPhone 5c that traced back to Huntsman. Another IP address traced back to his place of employment, Diamond Ranch Academy in Hurricane.
While examining Hunstman’s phone, Cedar City police found “several hundred pictures of child pornography,” according to the statement, which enabled police to take Huntsman in for questioning.
Once at the station, Huntsman reportedly waived his Miranda rights and admitted to both possessing and sharing the explicit child photos found in his possession.
He also admitted to photographing a 3-year-old that was in several of the photos in various stages of nudity and stated there may have been touching involved, according to the statement. Two of the photos showed there was, the statement said.
Though one of the IP addresses traced back to Huntsman’s employer, Diamond Ranch Academy, the Hurricane school issued a press release Wednesday asserting that Huntsman’s misconduct was not in any way related to any students or use of the school’s equipment.
“”DRA is astonished and deeply saddened to hear of the events leading to the arrest of Chad Huntsman,” the press release said. “DRA strives to provide a safe environment for the wellbeing of these youth.”
Diamond Ranch Academy would not comment on the length of Huntsman’s employment with the school nor his role at Diamond Ranch Academy, but the press release stated Huntsman has been placed on a suspended status while an internal investigation is conducted.
The press release said:
DRA holds its employees to the highest legal and ethical standards, which includes national background checks which must be done each year, and employees who violate those standards are subject to disciplinary action, which may include immediate termination.
The children in the other photos were not directly connected to Huntsman, Adams said, and there was no information leading officials to believe Huntsman had distributed any of the images he took of the victim he did know.
Oftentimes in arrests where child pornography is involved, Adams said, those arrested have photos of multiple children in their possession – usually downloaded from underground websites found on the Internet. It is believed that is how Huntsman came to have the images on his computer, he said.
Huntsman was booked into the Iron County Jail but was released Sept. 4 on $100,000 bondable bail, officials said.
Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.
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