“These are two more suspects who have not heeded our warning: If you are a part of the child pornography pipeline that has contributed to the victimization and traumatization of thousands of children around the world, we will catch you, and you will go to jail,” said Sheriff Grady Judd. “We have no tolerance for child pornographers in Polk County, period.”
Polk County Sheriff’s Office deputies served two search warrants on two separate residences yesterday, October 10, 2013.
The first search warrant was served at 141 Fernery Road Apt D7, Lakeland. Deputies developed information that someone at the residence offered to share child pornography via the Internet. 52-year-old Victor Signs Jr. (of 141 Fernery Road Apt D7, Lakeland) told deputies he uses software to download videos from other people and that he is the only one who uses the computer in the residence. When asked about downloading child pornography, Signs Jr. denied he downloaded it and then requested an attorney.
An onsite forensic preview was conducted of Signs Jr.’s computer and one video file of child pornography was located involving a young female child (4-5 years old) who was depicted nude and displayed in a lewd manner. Also located were multiple images of child erotica and animated child pornography. A full forensic examination will be completed to determine whether multiple files/images on his computer are child pornography. Signs Jr. was arrested for one count of possession of material depicting sexual conduct by a child (F-3; possession of child pornography) pending further investigation and transported to jail without incident. He is being held on no bond until first appearance today, Friday, October 11, 2013.
The second search warrant was served at 2446 Riverwood Drive, Mulberry. 36-year-old Christopher Bearden was located at the residence at the time of the search warrant. Bearden told detectives that he “unintentionally downloaded” child pornography. He also made statements to detectives implying that viewing child pornography was a victimless crime because the files were simply available on the Internet and he did not believe the children were being “hurt” in the videos. Bearden told detectives that there were likely 100 files of child pornography that would be located on his computer.
An onsite forensic preview of Bearden’s computer was conducted which yielded 40 video files depicting sexual conduct by a child (child pornography) between the ages of 5 and 13. Bearden was charged with 3 counts of possession with intent to promote material depicting sexual conduct by a child (F-2; promotion of child pornography) and 40 counts of possession of material depicting sexual conduct by a child (F-3; possession of child pornography). He was also charged with possession of methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was transported to jail without incident. He is being held on no bond until first appearance today, Friday, October 11, 2013.
A full forensic analysis of each computer seized will be conducted. Further charges are possible pending further investigation.
Victor Thomas Signs, Jr.; w/m 07/31/61; 141 Fernery Road, Apt D7, Lakeland, FL
Christopher Bearden ; w/m 6/10/77; 2446 Riverwood Drive, Mulberry, FL