A State College man charged with more than 1,500 felony counts of child pornography was found guilty after a one-day, non-jury trial at the Centre County Courthouse Annex.
David Buckley, 29, was initially charged with 42 counts of child pornography and one count of dissemination of child pornography in March 2015. An additional 1,508 charges were filed in January 2016.
The charges followed a lengthy state police undercover investigation into the sharing of child pornography on an internet file-sharing network. According to the initial affidavit filed, a court order determined the IP address on a computer that had downloaded a child pornography video belonged to Buckley, at a Ferguson Township address.
Retired Pennsylvania state Trooper Gerhard Goodyear testified via Skype on his findings during the investigation, saying that well-known BitTorrent sites, which are often used to illegally download media such as movies and songs, usually filter out attempts to find child pornography.
“It would take a much more concerted effort to find that kind of material,” he said.
Police are able to use software using known files of interest, he said. Users will connect to police computers seeking pornography, and will in turn be asked if they have any to share as well.
Goodyear denied that the police make any child pornography available during these investigations.
In this case, he said, Buckley’s system contacted the law enforcement’s system to get files and in turn was able to get files from him.
State police Trooper Todd Roby testified to analyzing a computer recovered at Buckley’s home, saying a search of common themes and search terms revealed numerous photos and videos downloaded between May and June 2013.
Ferguson Township police Officer Devon Moran testified to executing a Jan. 2, 2014 search warrant on Buckley’s house, recovering 22 items. A second warrant, executed on Jan. 3 while Buckley was present, took a laptop and a cell phone.
At that time, Moran said, Buckley told him he used BitTorrent software in the past to acquire legal pornography, and any time he would get child pornography by mistake, he would delete it right away. Buckley also admitted to deleting pornography off his laptop prior to the police arriving.
During the police testimony, Buckley’s attorney, Joseph Amendola, maintained that while images and videos were discovered on computers, the files had no way of telling who downloaded them — police agreed they did not indicate who was physically at the keyboard. Amendola maintained this position throughout the trial.
Vladistav Karabash, a former roommate of Buckley’s who worked with him at Champs Sports Grill on North Atherton Street, testified that he lived with Buckley for about two months but never recalled using his computer and never searched for child pornography while he was there. On cross examination, Karabash testified he was no longer living with Buckley by January 2014, but still had some of his belongings there and used Buckley’s address as his residence after a DUI incident in March.
A former cellmate of Buckley’s, Jamie Reed, testified that Buckley spoke about how well-organized he kept his pornography, adding that he was glad the police didn’t find a tablet that he had hidden.
Buckley’s former co-workers at Champs described him as a trustworthy and well-liked.
Buckley took the stand last and accused his former roommate of the searches.
Buckley claimed much of the testimony of Karabash and Reed was “not truthful,” saying his former roommate returned to his house many times after January 2014 and most of what his former cellmate said he had read in Buckley’s file.
He also testified that while his computer was password protected, in many times it was simply left on or in low-power mode, which wouldn’t prompt the password the next time it was used. He denied ever owning a tablet.
In closing arguments, Amendola argued that unlike other similar cases, the finger could be pointed at a second party. He also argued that his client was at work the evening the BitTorrent client was downloaded onto the computer, saying there was someone else who had access.
Assistant District Attorney Megan McGoron argued simply that the defendant admitted knowing that BitTorrent downloads could result in receiving child pornography, had admitted to getting it in the past and admitted to still using it regardless.
Centre County Judge Jonathan Grine found that the commonwealth had met the burden of proof, finding Buckley guilty of all 1,551 charges. Sentencing is scheduled for April 6.