published Thursday, December 19th, 2013

West Point cadet accused of emailing child porn

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — A West Point cadet was arrested on campus Thursday and charged with distributing child pornography via email.

Papers filed in federal court allege the cadet, Ricky Patrick Hester, sent videos up to 15 minutes long showing young boys engaged in explicit sexual activity.

Hester, 23, of Granger, Ind., faces federal charges of distributing and possessing child pornography. If convicted of the distribution charge, he would face five to 20 years in prison.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said child pornography "victimizes the most vulnerable members of our society."

The complaint alleges that Hester admitted sending child porn videos when Homeland Security Investigations agents questioned him in his West Point dorm room Wednesday.

He appeared in federal court in White Plains on Thursday and was released after posting a $50,000 bond co-signed by his mother, the U.S. attorney's office said. No plea was entered.

Hester's lawyer, federal public defender Jason Ser, declined comment. A West Point spokesman said the military academy would issue a statement Friday.

According to the complaint, the investigation began in June with federal prosecutors in Idaho trying to track down an email account that had been used to express interest in child pornography.

A search warrant served on Yahoo! eventually led to an account used by Hester, and another led to the discovery of pornographic videos in emails on that account, the complaint said. Agents also found an email that said, "I am in to 4-10 year olds hardcore with sound," according to the complaint.

Hester is a first class, or senior, cadet. He is due back in court on Jan. 15.

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