By Kyle Meenan
First Coast News
ATLANTIC BEACH, FL -- When forensics experts got a deep look into the computer hard drives of Chris Crews' computers, they say they found at least 19 sexual images and videos of children between the ages of 3 and 9.
Crews turned himself in to authorities Tuesday morning after a warrant for his arrest was signed Monday. In the weeks leading up to his arrest, Atlantic Beach Police stripped the 25-year-old officer of his authority, badge, police I.D. and gun.
In a prepared statement, Atlantic Beach Police Chief David Thompson wrote:
"Child Pornography is certainly one of the most morally repugnant vice offenses, and the Atlantic Beach Police Department is embarrassed to have an employee who has been associated with this behavior."
The case began in Brevard County in September when a detective working Internet Crimes Against Children linked up with a Jacksonville computer on the internet.
"He (the detective) on the computer was able to download some images from a computer in Jacksonville," said JSO Assistant Chief John Hartley.
After weeks of tracing the computer, a search warrant was issued to be served at the residence of Christopher Crews.
"On the 17th (of October) we went to the officer's residence," says Hartley.
"The search warrant revealed several computers."
Those computers were turned over to Federal Agents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, where cyber detectives spent hours dissecting the material on Crews' hard drives.
"To reconstruct files. Basically to look into that computer into every little corner to find any little nugget of criminal evidence," said ICE Assistant Special Agent in Charge Ralph DeFelice.
Authorities tell First Coast News there were 19 different sexual images and videos of children between 3 and 9 years old on Christopher Crews' computer.
"He turned himself in with his attorney this morning," said Chief Hartley.
"He was placed in the Duval County jail just like anybody else would be, and he bonded out just like anybody else has the right to do."
"He was given, as far as I know, no preferential treatment going in or coming out of jail."
Crews reportedly paid the $105,000 bond and was released just before 2p.m. Tuesday.
Agents say 25-year-old Crews could face up to 110 years in jail.
"He has been charged with one count of distribution of child pornography which is a second degree felony," said Chief Assistant Statewide Prosecutor Luis Bustamante, adding the charge carries a potential 15-year prison term.
"And he has been charged with 19 counts of possession of child pornography."
Bustamante says those charges could result in 5-years per offense.
The message from local, state, and federal agents is clear to anyone thinking of dabbling in child pornography.
"We're going to go after them. No matter who you are. No matter what position you have!"
Chief Thompson told First Coast News Chris Crews started with his department about six years ago as an animal control officer, then spent a couple of years in communications before hitting the streets in 2004.
Crews has not been fired, but he is serving in an administrative role and is not allowed to have any contact with the public. His future employment or termination is a matter of an administrative process that Thompson says must run its course by law.
First Coast News