Conway man facing child porn charges will remain in jail pending trial

dwren@thesunnews.comMay 2, 2013 

— A Conway man charged with possession and distribution of child pornography as part of an international investigation into Internet web sites where images and videos are traded will remain in prison until his trial, a federal judge ruled this week.

Richard Rau, 67, of the Myrtle Trace subdivision, remains in the Florence County Detention Center following Magistrate Judge Thomas Rogers ruling on Wednesday. Jury selection for Rau’s trial is scheduled for May 31.

Rau, who was arrested on April 25, faces seven felony charges of distributing child pornography via computer and one felony charge of possession of child pornography. The distribution charges carry maximum prison sentences of 20 years each, while the possession charge carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years. Rau has pleaded not guilty.

Rogers denied bond for Rau because testimony at a detention hearing provided “clear and convincing evidence” that the case against Rau is strong, that his possible prison sentence is extensive and that Rau has admitted to at least some of the charges, according to court documents. Additionally, Rogers said Rau lives alone, has previously traveled out of the country and has substantial financial means.

Rogers said there also have been previous allegations that Rau had inappropriate contact involving a minor family member and discussed that family member with others via emails and in Internet chat rooms.

Federal law enforcement officials learned of Rau during their investigation into the international child pornography ring, according to an affidavit by a Homeland Security Investigations special agent. That group would post non-illicit photographs of children on an Internet-based image hosting site and then contact the site’s users to trade illegal child pornography via email, according to the affidavit.

Homeland Security agents say Rau registered an account with the image hosting site in November, using the email address golfmaninsc@yahoo.com, according to the affidavit. Rau then posted photos he had taken during a trip to Aruba and made suggestive comments about several images posted by other users, according to court documents.

Federal authorities obtained a search warrant in February and seized several items from Rau’s home, including two tablets, two computers, an Apple iPhone and several computer discs, according to court documents. The indictment states that child pornography was found on several of the seized items and that Rau emailed sexually explicit images of children to others on at least seven occasions between Dec. 11 and Jan. 21.

To date, federal officials have served 54 search warrants on individuals who used the same image hosting website as Rau, according to an affidavit. Nearly all of those individuals – 52 of the 54 cases – allegedly had child pornography images on their computers, according to the affidavit, and 37 of them have been indentified as contact offenders. In addition, 53 victims have been identified and rescued from further abuse, the affidavit states.

Contact DAVID WREN at 626-0281.

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