HAWLEY — Police have arrested a man charged with 33 counts of Sexual Abuse of Children, all third-degree felonies, for the possession of over 250 images and videos of child pornography.
After a lengthy investigation by Wayne County Detectives, Alexander Soto, 20, of Lakeville, was arrested and arraigned Wednesday before Magisterial District Judge Bonnie Carney.
His preliminary hearing was yet to be determined as of publication time Friday afternoon.
According to a release from the Wayne County District Attorney's (DA) Office, detectives received a tip last August that 16 files “of apparent child pornography” were uploaded to Dropbox.com between February and August of 2017.
Dropbox.com is a website used for personal cloud storage, “that is frequently used for file sharing and collaboration,” states the release.
The investigation revealed the account was accessed from three different internet protocol (IP) addresses by someone using the screen name Alex Soto.
Wayne County Detectives received a second alert in February of this year, stating between August and November 2017, the same person uploaded another 14 files of apparent child pornography to Dropbox.com.
One of the IP's was traced to the Lakeville residence where the accused was staying.
In May 2018, investigators received a warrant to search the residence.
According to the affidavit of probable cause filed by Wayne County Chief Detective Peter Hower, “We searched Alex's bedroom and seized several pieces of electronic hardware. The items were analyzed, but no items of child pornography were found.”
During the search, the detectives located an iPhone containing the email address linked to the Dropbox accounts where the files were uploaded.
The affidavit states Hower located and confronted Soto at a business in Greenville.
Hower seized the defendant's cell phone and explained the details of the case.
“[Soto] stated that he knew exactly what I was talking about,” states Hower's affidavit. “He stated that he used his cell phone to access pornographic websites.
“He explained that when he clicked on certain websites, windows would open automatically that appeared to contain child pornography.
“He would hit the back arrow, but that would cause the windows with the child pornography to open.”
According to the affidavit, when Hower explained the pornography was uploaded to Dropbox, Soto “...acknowledged that he had used Dropbox in the past, but he has since deactivated it.”
After the encounter, search warrants were issued for the phone found in Soto's room and on his person, as well as for the Dropbox accounts.
The affidavit states no pornography was found on the phones, but “...approximately 264 images of child pornography and 86 videos containing child pornography were found in Soto's 2 Dropbox accounts.”
The folders listed the victims by first name, age and country of origin.
All the folders containing child pornography had victims between 12 and 15 years of age.
“On most if not all of the videos, the females in the video would state their names, ages and country of origin,” states the affidavit.
— Information from a release was used in this story.