Broken laptop leads to child porn investigation

by: Amy Clancy Updated:

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It used to be that child pornography was often discovered when camera film was professionally developed.

Now, child pornographers are increasingly being caught when they bring their computers in for technical service.

 Just-filed King County Superior Court documents say a child pornography investigation began at the Microsoft Store at University Village in January. According to a Seattle police report filed this week in King County Superior Court, a 66-year-old Everett man brought his computer in for service.  That's when a technician noticed a slideshow "with pictures of young males … engaged in sexual acts."  Microsoft called Seattle police.

More and more child pornographers are being caught, simply because they bring computers in to be serviced. Michael Murray, of New York, was charged with 15 counts of child porn possession last month after he brought his laptop to Best Buy to be repaired. Same thing in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

That doesn't mean the owner of the laptop is always guilty of distributing child porn, but it's where the investigation begins. Then search warrants, like the one found by KIRO 7, are filed to determine whether the computer's owner, or someone else, downloaded the child porn. 

Last fall, Microsoft debuted its Cybercrime Center and promised to not only go after child pornographers at the local level, but worldwide. 

“Our mission is to create a clean internet for every person on the planet,” Microsoft’s David Finn told KIRO 7. On Thursday, Microsoft confirmed that one of its technicians at the University Village store found the child porn and notified police, but the company wouldn’t comment further. 

Meanwhile, the laptop’s owner hasn’t been arrested or charged. But the warrant says he was also investigated by the Seattle Police Department in April 2011 because management at the apartment where he lived said he might have child pornography.  No arrests or criminal charges were ever filed in that case.