According to a local news outlet, Pennsylvania law enforcement and agents from the state Attorney General’s office arrested a 21-year-old man on 25 child pornography charges. All 25 charges came from possession of child pornography. The Hempfield man, Collin J. Frazier, had downloaded 25 “files” depicting child abuse, an employee from the Attorney General’s Office told the press. If defendants in other child abuse cases received a number of charges that corresponded with the number of files discovered on their computers, some of the defendants would have been charged with thousands of counts of possession of child pornography.
According to court documents, Frazier watched videos of child abuse on the darknet. However, the probable cause affidavit only revealed that authorities believed Frazier had accessed illegal content. They similarly only revealed that they had probable cause to believe that one of the computers seized from Frazier’s Hempfield Township home had 25 illegal files stored on it. Pictures and/or videos, most likely. The state Attorney General’s office said the content showed “children under age 18” performing various sexual acts.
The actual necessity to establish probable cause, however, became nonexistent after authorities executed an arrest warrant at Frazier’s house. According to Duane E. Tabak of the Attorney General’s Office, Frazier told authorities that he had used a “dark web browser” to access and watch child abuse videos within one hour of his arrest on February 8. The 21-year-old most likely fell for the classic law enforcement lie. The lie that telling authorities what they want to hear will result in a favorable sentence. In the US, the arresting officers have no ability to impact a suspect’s sentence.
Frazier was arraigned before District Judge Anthony Bompiani on the same day. In addition to the 25 counts of possession of child pornography, Frazier faces one count of criminal use of a communication facility. In the state of Pennsylvania, the criminal use of a communication facility is an additional charge applicable to nearly any crime committed on a computer, tablet, cell phone, etc. That includes drug distribution using a cell phone, fraud with a fax machine, or possessing child pornography on a computer. Frazier, if the government’s case holds, will likely lose the criminal use charge, but keep a number of the possession of child pornography charges.
The court set a $150,000 bond for Frazier. The bond went unpaid and court ordered Frazier’s incarceration. He is currently being held at the Westmoreland County Prison. A preliminary hearing will take place on February 20.