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State v. Chaput

Superior Court of Rhode Island

September 21, 2017

STATE OF RHODE ISLAND
v.
MICHAEL CHAPUT

         Kent County Superior Court

          For Plaintiff: Matthew LaMountain, Esq.

          For Defendant: John E. MacDonald, Esq.

          DECISION

          McBURNEY, M. JUSTICE.

         Before this Court is the Defendant, Michael Chaput's (Defendant), Super. R. Crim. P. 9.1 (Rule 9.1) motion to dismiss Count One against him in the above-entitled matter. As grounds for his motion, Defendant asserts that no probable cause exists to believe that the offense charged has been committed or that Defendant committed said charge. For the reasons set forth herein, this Court denies Defendant's Rule 9.1 motion to dismiss.

         I

         Facts and Travel

         On August 18, 2015, the Rhode Island Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force[1] learned that a computer using the Internet Protocol[2] (IP) address 68.0.233.124 was on a peer-to-peer[3] file-sharing network. The ICAC Task Force conducted a single source direct connection to said IP address and downloaded a file named "Kait‒Katrin 6yo love dad.avi" with the description "an adult male having vaginal intercourse with a nude female toddler." Harris Aff. at 3. Detective Kevin Harris (Detective Harris)-investigator assigned to ICAC- reviewed the file and confirmed its content to be in conformity with the definition of child pornography as defined under G.L. 1956 § 11-9-1.3. Id.

         An inquiry with the American Registry of Internet Numbers (ARIN) was conducted, and the results determined that the owner of IP address 68.0.233.124 was identified as Cox Communications Incorporated. A request for records was sent to Cox Communications, and Cox Communications provided that the IP address belonged to Barbara Chaput of 155 Read Avenue in Coventry, Rhode Island. Thereafter, a search warrant was obtained and executed at said address. Defendant, son of Barbara Chaput, admitted that he was the primary user of the computer in the home. See Michael Chaput Witness Statement at 4-5, No. 33-36.

         The ICAC Task Force seized Defendant's hard drive and conducted a forensic examination of its contents. The ICAC Task Force discovered nine images of child pornography located within folders found within Mike's Documents folder titled "NEW PICS" and "WAYNE NEW." See Preliminary Digital Forensic Examination Report at 3. The ICAC Task Force also examined the hard drive for e-Mule[4] evidence and found multiple files with names indicative of child pornography that were downloaded or shared. Id. at 4. Specifically, the file name "Kait-Katrin 6yo love dad.avi" was downloaded using e-Mule on August 18, 2015 at 13:40 (UTC) and was last shared on August 18, 2015 at 14:39 (UTC). Id.

         Additionally, on October 7, 2015, the Defendant was interviewed by Detective Harris and Detective Pacheco. During the interview, the Defendant admitted to reviewing and possessing child pornography through the use of e-Mule. See Michael Chaput Witness Statement at 6, No. 48; 8, No. 64-69; 9, No. 76; 11, No. 92, 94, 95, 98; 12, No. 99. The Defendant admitted that he has copied images and videos containing child pornography onto DVDs and mailed the DVDs to a man named "Wayne" in the state of Wyoming for $100.00 per DVD. Id. at 7, No. 56-61; 18-19, No. 158-167; 20, No. 174. Furthermore, the Defendant admitted to using e-Mule as recently as August or September of 2015. Id. at 6, No. 48; 22, No. 190. The Defendant explained that he would use the peer-to-peer sharing program to search[5] and download videos and that some of the content included "girls that would be nude." Id. at 8, No. 64-69. The Defendant stated that he enjoyed looking at nude five and six-year-old girls and that he masturbated to videos of young girls. Id. at 10, No. 81-82, 87; 12, No. 99; 15, No. 125-126. When asked whether the Defendant realized that he could have been sharing files with others by downloading content, the Defendant responded, "I know, yeah. I know I'm sharing some, but the folder I had was everything I had was, was it was music." Id. at 13, No. 113. However, the Defendant later claimed that he had an online friend who sometimes received nude photos of five to nine-year-old girls through Defendant's folders titled "Wayne" and "new pics." Id. at 17-18, No. 145-150.

         Based on the above information, the Defendant was charged with two child pornography related offenses. Count One alleges that the Defendant knowingly mailed, transported, delivered, or transferred images of child pornography in violation of § 11-9-1.3(a)(2). Count Two alleges that the Defendant knowingly possessed a computer hard drive that contained images of child pornography in violation of § 11-9-1.3(a)(4). Defendant now moves to dismiss Count One on the ground that there is insufficient probable cause to charge the Defendant with transmittal of child pornography.

         II

         Standard ...


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