Former middle school teacher in court on child sex exploitation accusations

Local

Former Derby Middle School teacher Cody Chitwood was in court Friday to face a preliminary hearing on charges of child exploitation through child porn images.

Joe Gray with the New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs says he investigates crimes against children by looking for those who distribute child porn images. Gray explains finding a home internet router, later traced to Derby, where someone was distributing links to child exploitation images.

In a very rare court procedure, Gray testified via Skype from New Zealand on Friday. The judge and defense listened as prosecutors asked Gray about images he found in a chat room.

“My job requires me to know whether a child is of legal age or illegal age,” said Gray. “And it is clear that these children are all of pre-teen, illegal ages.”

Gray says he told authorities in Phoenix, Arizona. Those authorities called internet crimes investigators in Wichita.

Detective Hans Asmussen with Wichita police says they got a search warrant and went to Chitwood’s home after investigating. Asmussen says they got permission from Chitwood to look at his personal computer in his home.

“Yes, I found images that were of an illegal nature on the MacBook,” said Asmussen. “And I told investigators inside to let detective Schroeder know that I had found some images.”

The defense for Chitwood asked if the images were definitely those of underage children. The defense se also asked if it was Chitwood who may have downloaded images or if it could have been someone else who had access to his home computing router network.

At the end of the day, Judge Ben Burgess said there is enough evidence to go to trial on 11 counts of sexual exploitation of a child.

A preliminary hearing is now set for Chitwood on January 22.

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