Caution: This story contains material that may be disturbing to some readers.
BY MAIRE O’NEILL
John P. Kelley, 50, a firefighter with Los Alamos Fire Department has been released on his own recognizance with pretrial services by Magistrate Judge Pat Casados following a first appearance in court Monday morning.
Kelley was arrested Friday afternoon by Los Alamos Police Department officers and charged with sexual exploitation of a child/possession which is a fourth degree felony offense. The charge carries a possible sentence of 18 months of incarceration and/or $1,000 if the child is aged 13 to 18 years. If a separate finding of face made by the Court or a jury shows beyond a reasonable doubt that the child depicted in visual or print medium is under the age of 13, the basic sentence is increased by a year.
Judge Casados said she had not been informed that Kelley has any record, so she couldn’t hold him on that. She asked him if he had ever not shown up for a court hearing and Kelley responded that he had once missed a court date when his dog got out and that when he got the next notice, he saw the judge and took care of it. Judge Casados asked him if he will show up at all his court dates and he replied that he will.
Judge Casados told Kelley she was going to let him out on his own recognizance but that he was going to have some conditions.
“If you violate one condition, you’re back in orange and white in jail,” she said.
Judge Casados advised Kelley that he can’t violate criminal laws or possess firearms or dangerous weapons. She ordered family members present in court to remove the firearms from Kelley’s home and submit written proof from whoever removed them that they are out of the home within 24 hours.
She also imposed the standard conditions of no alcohol or illegal drugs and drug/alcohol testing at the request of the court of pretrial services. Kelley is also required to notify the court of any change of address and is not allowed to leave the state without written permission. He is to obtain an attorney and avoid contact with any alleged victim or anyone expected to testify in the case. He is to report to pretrial services daily and call in on weekends.
Kelley asked Judge Casados if he needed buy another prepaid phone or if he could get back the one he had purchased after his personal cell phone was seized by LAPD. She said she didn’t know, that he would have to speak to LAPD about that.
Asked by Judge Casados about his employment status, Kelley said he had not been terminated.
“My boss came here and talked to me this morning. I am on leave without pay. I need to go see them tomorrow and get the details worked out,” he said.
Judge Casados told him she didn’t think she would put him on electronic monitoring.
“I’ll give you a chance but that would be my next step to have an ankle bracelet on you but you have family here in this community,” she said.
Court documents show that a National Center for Missing and Exploited Children cyber-tip indicated that on Oct. 16, 2019, three photos were uploaded from an IP address that are suspected to be of child pornography. Information for the IP address and a cell phone number were subpoenaed from Verizon by Holly Rodriguez, an analyst in the Attorney General’s Internet Crimes Against Children Unit (ICAC).
After the photos were forwarded by ICAC to LAPD, Det. Ryan Wolking reviewed the three photos and his affidavit for an arrest warrant states that the images show prepubescent or young girls engaging or being forced to engage in sexual acts.
On Feb. 13, the affidavit states that Wolking determined that the IP address and cell phone number are associated with Kelley. It says Wolking believed Kelley might have additional devices containing evidence to the case.
On Feb. 20, Wolking, along with Det. Sgt, James Rodriguez, Det. Matt Lyon and Cpl. David Randleman served a search warrant at Kelley’s residence and seized several electronic items “to be searched in forensic laboratories at a later date as the investigation continues”.
Detective Lyon did a partial search of Kelley’s personal cell phone which the affidavit states produced some 19,000 images of which many are legal and “normal”.
“I conducted a very brief review of the first rows of images and it became clear there were dozens of images depicting prohibited acts or simulation of such acts involving pre-pubescent girls. I quickly flagged over 50 images of obvious pre-pubescent child pornography and many other images that are questionable,” Wolking’s affidavit states. “During my brief search, I reviewed only a tiny portion of the number of photographs. Beyond the reasonable doubt of the pre-teen pre-pubescent age of the girls depicted in the sexual acts, it appears the person viewing the images could easily have no doubt that many of the children depicted in the sexual acts are under the age of 13.”
Wolking then submitted the request for an arrest warrant for Kelley which was executed Friday afternoon. At the end of the affidavit, Wolking noted that “without the demand coming from viewers like Kelley, “there would be no reason to supply these illegal images resulting in the sexual abuse and exploitation of children”. He goes on to state that because Kelley is facing a loss of his career and reputation, he is “a flight risk who may flee Los Alamos County to attempt to evade criminal charges” and that because several firearms were located in Kelley’s residence for the same reasons it is “possible John could be a danger to himself, to the public, to children and to police officers when faced with criminal proceedings”.