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Man arrested months after investigators say they found disturbing images on his phone

Crime Watch

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Westley L. Cottam | Bannock County Jail

Editor’s note: This article contains descriptions of a graphic nature. Reader discretion is advised.

POCATELLO — Law enforcement arrested a Malad man nearly 11 months after investigators say they discovered child pornography on his phone.

In January, investigators discovered the images on the phone of 23-year-old Westley L. Cottam, according to an affidavit of probable cause obtained by EastIdahoNews.com.

At the time the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office served a search warrant on the phone, Cottam was being held in the Bannock County Jail on unrelated charges. Deputies were investigating Cottom drug trafficking, drug possession and assisting in a suicide. (Court records indicate he did not face charges for those alleged crimes).

A deputy writes in his report that Cottam seemed nervous about having his phone in the possession of law enforcement and refused to give the passcode.

A special agent with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement downloaded the contents of the phone and notified local authorities of files of child pornography. Bannock County deputies inspected the files and discovered sexually explicit photos of four prepubescent girls. At least one image contained a depiction of bestiality, according to court documents.

Cottom was arrested and booked into the Bannock County Jail again in June after he ran from police who were trying to arrest him on outstanding warrants. At that time, officers questioned him about the child pornography that had previously been found. He denied ever having child pornography on his phone.

Two months later, in August, Cottam was charged with 10 felony counts of possession of child pornography for the find from January.

Law enforcement arrested Cottam on Tuesday for the child pornography, according to court records. It remains unclear why it took so long to place him into custody after filing for charges in August.

If convicted on all counts, Cottam could spend up to 100 years in prison and pay a $100,000 fine. He remains held in the Bannock County Jail on $20,000 bail.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Dec. 24.

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