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Massena man named in 17-count federal indictment alleging child porn possession

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MASSENA - A Massena man has been named in a 17-count federal indictment alleging that he possessed and distributed child pornography.

Christopher J. Durand, 34, was charged Friday in U.S. District Court, Syracuse, with obtaining pornographic videos involving children over the Internet and with disseminating images, also over the Internet.

According to a criminal complaint filed in the matter, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children received a “Cyber Tip-line” report in July 2012 saying that an employee of a Denver, Colo., website host had reported possible child pornography using an Internet protocol address assigned to a person in Massena. The state attorney general’s office issued a subpoena related to the records for the address and allegedly learned it was assigned to Durand.

The state police’s computer crime unit contacted Massena police and requested a street address check for Durand, which was provided and then confirmed by the U.S. Postal Service. A search warrant was obtained for Durand’s residence in November 2012 and a computer and cellphone were seized. A forensic check of the items allegedly found pornographic images of children.

According to the complaint, Durand told investigators that he had been receiving images over the Internet for about three years and that he had traded images with a man named Dave in Minnesota. State police there investigated the man, who allegedly told investigators that he had received images from a man in New York named Chris. The man also said that Chris had sent him a package containing computer parts and when the package was recovered, it allegedly had a return address matching Durand’s address. Durand allegedly admitted that he sent the package to the man in Minnesota.

The indictment is the latest step in a criminal case that started in November 2012 when Durand was arrested on he charges by state police.

Massena-based state police Bureau of Criminal Investigations investigators had charged Durand in November 2012 with a felony count of possessing a sexual performance by a child and a felony count of promoting a sexual performance by a child.

“I don’t understand why I am interested in child pornography,” Durand said in the statement he signed for state police investigators.

Troopers said the charges stemmed from an investigation initiated by the New York State Police Internet Crimes against Children Task Force and the New York State Police Computer Crimes Unit. They were assisted by the Massena Police Department in the investigation.

State police seized and examined a Dell Dimension 2350 computer, USB flash drives and a cell phone when they executed a search warrant at his Andrews Street apartment. Investigators, in court documents, said the items contained hundreds of photos and videos featuring sexual performances by children.

Troopers also alleged Durand had uploaded at midnight July 13, 2012 four video files containing images of pre-pubescent children engaging in sex acts.

Durand, in his statement to police, said he had worked for Tamarack for several years but left after suffering a back injury. He said he then worked for a time at a tire business in Ogdensburg before quitting that job three years ago and going on disability.

He said he moved to Massena from Potsdam and had spent his days caring for his dog, watching television and on his computer.

He said he visited a child pornography website about three years ago.

“This website sells child pornography, and you can preview pictures on this site. I first started downloading child pornography from this website. The website also had a chat function, where I met other people and traded child pornography with them,” he noted in his statement.

He said he met a man he identified as Dave from Minnesota in the chat room. “Dave directed me toward a lot of links and chat sites on the web related to child pornography. If it wasn’t for Dave, I wouldn’t know anything about the stuff,” Durand added.

“Dave also set a Yahoo mail account,” Durand said, noting the password and user name were shared initially with five people.

The group used that account to place and exchange child pornography, and Durand said the number of people with access to that account had grown over a two-year period.

“I would never hurt a child. In the past, I have had opportunities to molest children. I could never hurt a child and when I say hurt I mean not only physically hurt them but molest them. I could never do that,” he said in his statement.

He acknowledged there had been incidents involving an 8-year-old girl in the summer of 2011 and a 4-year-old girl about seven years ago when he might have touched a child’s intimate parts, but he said both incidents were accidents. He said he had apologized to the 8-year-old for the “accidental” touch and suggested the pre-school child had initiated the contact in that incident.

Durand said he couldn’t understand his interest in child pornography.

“I don’t know why I am doing these things. I don’t get it. I apologize to anybody I hurt, and I need help,” he told investigators in his November 2012 statement.

Durand is currently held in custody at the Onondaga County Correctional Facility. He had been jailed on $50,000 cash bail in November 2012 following his arrest by state police.

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