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Couple who allegedly used a child to produce porn federally indicted

Crime Watch

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Elizabeth Evans and Joseph Harris

RIGBY — Federal charges have been filed against a Rigby couple who are accused of sexually abusing a 4-year-old and documenting the abuse with a cell phone.

As a result, Jefferson County Prosecutor Paul Butikofer dropped all local charges against Joseph Harris, 30, and Elizabeth Evans, 27, and turned the case over to federal prosecutors. Harris previously had been charged with lewd conduct with a minor under 16, and two counts of sexual exploitation of a child. Evans had been charged with one count of aiding or encouraging lewd conduct and one count of sexual exploitation of a child.

Both have now been charged with felony sexual exploitation of a minor child, according to documents filed in federal court on Tuesday. If convicted, the couple could serve between 15 to 30 years in federal prison and have to pay a fine of up to $250,000.

Joseph Harris | Natalia Hepworth, EastIdahoNews.com

Idaho U.S. Assistant District Attorney Ann Wick told EastIdahoNews.com that Evans and Harris are being charged federally for allegedly using a child for the purpose of producing one or more images of child pornography.

RELATED: Couple accused of sexually abusing and exploiting a 4-year-old

“It’s in the federal interest to prosecute crimes of this serious nature,” Wick said.

Wick, however, did not elaborate on why the case was moved to federal jurisdiction. In some instances, federal officials get involved in child pornography cases if images or video are being transferred across state lines or foreign borders. It’s unclear if images were sent to somewhere outside Idaho.

Harris and Evans were arrested in early March, after Jefferson County detectives, with the assistance of a Bonneville County detective, obtained a warrant to search a home in Idaho Falls. Deputies confiscated three mobile devices from the home where they found at least one disturbing image of the child engaging in a sex act with Harris. Both Harris and Evans told police they were high during the incident.

As part of the charge, if found convicted, the couple will forfeit any mobile devices that may have been used to create the pornography.

Harris and Evans are set to appear in United States District Court at 9:30 a.m. Friday.

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