Sonoma County judge orders former SRJC police cadet to stand trial on child porn charges

A former SRJC police cadet has been ordered to stand trial on child porn charges.|

Pornographic photos and videos police found on a computer tablet belonging to a 23-year-old aspiring law enforcement officer featured children as young as 5 years old and included videos of young girls being abused by adult men, police testified Monday.

Detectives found the computer tablet on the bedside table in Ryan Imschweiler’s rented room in north Santa Rosa after receiving tips from two cybercrimes organizations, Santa Rosa Police Det. Rick Boehm testified during a preliminary hearing.

The hearing was held Monday to determine if prosecutors had sufficient evidence to charge Imschweiler with felony child pornography crimes. Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Knoel Owen ruled there was enough evidence to go to trial. The defendant returns to court May 10.

Wearing a dark suit and glasses, Imschweiler, who was enrolled in the Santa Rosa Junior College police academy, listened quietly to the proceedings.

The investigation into Imschweiler started with two tips received by the Santa Rosa Police Department in November 2017 from the Silicon Valley Internet Crimes Against Children, a regional task force based at the San Jose Police Department, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

The photographs were intercepted by the organizations after they were uploaded to a peer-to-peer file sharing network.

One picture showed a sexually explicit photograph of a girl police estimated was between 6 and 8 years old and the other exploitative picture featured a younger girl wearing no clothes. Boehm testified that they found the same images on Imschweiler’s tablet during the investigation.

Initially, the Internet address provided by the tipsters led detectives to a house where Imschweiler previously rented a room and they interviewed the homeowners, who denied having ever downloaded child pornography, the detective testified.

They found Imschweiler’s new address and found the computer tablet there in his bedroom when they searched the residence Nov. 14. They arrested him a week later on Nov. 21, and he was released on bail.

Imschweiler first told police he had a computer and a cellphone but didn’t mention a tablet, Boehm said. He later told police he hadn’t had access to the tablet for more than a year because he forgot the password, according to the detective.

“He said, ‘It’s such a convoluted story, you wouldn’t believe me,’ or something like that,” Boehm said.

Imschweiler’s attorney questioned Boehm about whether he had ruled out the possibility that Imschweiler’s roommates had used the tablet and downloaded the child pornography. Boehm said they hadn’t done so.

“You’re aware he and his roommates go into each others’ rooms?” his attorney Janessa McCune said.

“No,” Boehm said.

A forensic analysis of the tablet showed it contained more than 25,000 photographs, many pornographic and sexually suggestive images involving children, and more than 500 videos, all pornography, police said.

Boehm said that more than half of the photographs fit the legal criteria for child pornography and many more were sexually suggestive.

Police also testified Imschweiler had created a social media account on the tablet, using the name and photos from a former classmate at Maria Carrillo High School without her consent or knowledge.

Imschweiler was enrolled at the SRJC and worked as a campus police cadet from 2015 to 2017, according to the college.

He also had volunteered with the Sebastopol Police Department and was honored in 2015 because during a ride-along with an officer he called for backup on a police radio when he saw the officer was getting attacked by a suspect.

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