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Ex-airman pleads guilty to possessing child porn

Jonathan Carper

GRAND FORKS -- Jonathan Carper, a former airman and civilian contractor at the Grand Forks Air Force Base caught last summer with child pornography on his home computer pleaded guilty Tuesday in state district court to seven felony counts of possessing videos showing victims as young as 7 being sexually assaulted by men.

Carper, 25, is scheduled to be sentenced April 23.

He remains living in the area, out on bond of $7,500, said his attorney, Tyler Morrow.

Carper entered "open pleas," meaning he did not accept a deal from prosecutors. Each of the seven felony counts carries a possible sentence of up to five years in prison.

Carper was an airman at Beale Air Force Base north of Sacramento, Calif., before being stationed at the Grand Forks base several years ago, then taking a civilian contracting job at the base.

His hometown is Martinsburg, W.Va.

Carper was arrested June 25 after an investigation that began in 2012 when federal and state child porn experts picked up indications that a computer in Grand Forks had downloaded child porn using a common "peer-to-peer" service that facilitates the trading and collecting of child porn via the Internet.

Forensic experts tracked the Internet address to Carper's computer and were able to conclude, remotely, that the computer had downloaded illegal files. After a search of his home on South 38th Street in Grand Forks, investigators seized several computers and data storage devices that had several videos of child porn.

The videos showed girls and boys appearing to be ages 7 to 15 engaging in sexual acts with adult men and with each other, according to court affidavits.

Prosecutors described the children as "known victims" who have been identified by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, their images traded worldwide by pornographers and often turning up in criminal cases, effectively "re-victimized."

Investigators said at his arrest Carper admitted he had downloaded videos of pornography showing young people he "knew" were under the age of 18.

He first was charged with one felony count. Later that was amended to seven felony counts each referring to a specific video.

Prosecutors said last fall Carper tried to flee.

Michael Arel, special agent with the Department of Homeland Security, contacted prosecutors, saying he learned from border officials that Carper "had attempted to enter Canada with another individual," Sept. 20 at the Pembina, N.D., crossing, but was stopped.

David Jones, an assistant state's attorney for Grand Forks County, quickly asked a judge to revoke Carper's bond, "based upon the fact that (Carper's) recent actions indicate he may abscond from this jurisdiction."

Rather, the judge ordered Carper to surrender his passport to court officials, who are keeping it in "the vault," and kept his bond at $7,500.

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