Florida Keys News
Monday, June 2, 2014
Child porn case continues

Federal grand jurors issued a new indictment last week against a former Key West Coast Guardsman arrested two years ago in an Old Town "peeping Tom" case.

Ryan Witten, 27, was convicted June 13 in state court on five counts of video voyeurism and one count of loitering and prowling. Two weeks later, circuit Judge Mark Jones sentenced him to 60 days in the Monroe County Detention Center, and three years probation.

A federal grand jury subsequently indicted Witten, 26, formerly of 620 Angela St., on July 30 on one count of possessing a visual depiction of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

A new superseding indictment was handed down on May 20 on three counts of possession of child pornography and that appears to be the charges that prosecutors will tackle in the federal case.

The maximum penalty for the federal charges is 10 years in prison, according to the indictment.

Prosecutors allege Witten possessed a hard drive, an Apple MacBook computer and CDs, each containing an image of child pornography, court records state.

Witten was in the process of being discharged from the Coast Guard between the conclusion of the state case and the start of the federal case.

Witten maintains that he did not give Key West police permission to go through the images on a camera and an iPhone in his possession after his initial detainment in August 2012 following a foot chase on the 700 block of Whitmarsh Lane.

Officers claim to have found cameras on Witten with more than 100 "suspicious" images of women, many of whom seemed unaware they were being photographed. Some of them were in various stages of undress, according to police reports.

Many of the photos looked like they were taken through windows and fences, officers reported.

Evidence that became the basis of the federal case was unearthed in September 2012 when police found a locked seabag in Witten's BMW.

In the car was an Apple laptop, an external hard drive, 95 CDs, 35 DVDs, 21 VHS tapes, a Black and Decker tool bag, a gym bag marked "Coast Guard Ryan Witten" and other assorted gear, according to a federal criminal complaint filed June 28.

Those items were handed over to the FBI and sent to Miami to be analyzed, according to court records.

One of the CDs allegedly contained 30 images of naked children in sexually explicit poses and performing sexual acts, according to the complaint.

"Several of the prepubescent minors were clearly under the age of 12," the FBI agent wrote in the complaint.

There was no evidence in the complaint that any of the minors depicted were local, and no allegation in the complaint that Witten recorded local children.

A federal magistrate judge ruled in July that Witten be detained without bail, deeming him a flight risk.

Tenative court dates had yet to be scheduled as of Wednesday, according to federal docket records.

alinhardt@keysnews.com

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