Nearly year-long investigation results in Monday’s arrest
Jefferson County resident Brian Robert Hawthorne, 29, was arrested Monday and charged with one count of sexual exploitation of a minor – first offense, an aggravated misdemeanor.
An aggravated misdemeanor is punishable by up to two years in jail and a fine of $625 to $6,250.
According to court records, Hawthorne’s behavior in 2013 attracted the attention of Sergeant Shia Cruciani, a member of the Internet Crimes against Children Task Force (ICAC).
In March of that year, Cruciani investigated the sharing of child pornography on a file-sharing network known as ARES.
Cruciani identified an Internet protocol (IP) address as a potential download candidate for at least 28 files of investigative interest.
On March 10, 2013, Cruciani downloaded five files from this IP address that depicted what appeared to be minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct. Authorities obtained a subpoena from the Internet Service Provider for the IP address, which showed the subscriber’s address in the 1600 block of Pleasant Plain Road in Jefferson County.
On May 2, members of the ICAC Task Force and other law enforcement officers initiated a search warrant at the residence. Several items were seized during the search, including a laptop computer located in the bedroom closet of the defendant.
A forensic examination of this laptop computer revealed images and videos of what appeared to be minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct including, but not limited to, the lascivious exhibition of their genitals.
Hawthorne’s bond was set at $2,000. A preliminary court hearing for him is scheduled for 3 p.m. April 18. Court records indicate his bond was posted by David and Eileen Hawthorne. Judge Benny Waggoner denied Brian Hawthorne’s motion to have a court-appointed attorney.
Agencies assisting in the investigation were the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Fairfield Police Department, ICAC, Dewitt Police Department and the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office.