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Man arrested after woman allegedly discovers he was searching for child pornography on phone

Crime Watch

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Marco Antonio Hernandez-Maldonado | Bonneville County Jail

IONA — Deputies arrested an Iona man who they say tried to cover up a child pornography habit.

Marco Antonio Hernandez-Maldonado, 26, is charged with felony child pornography and felony destruction of evidence.

The Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office began investigating him after a woman discovered his search history and contacted authorities, according to an affidavit of probable cause obtained by EastIdahoNews.com.

In October 2020, Hernandez-Maldonado arrived at the Bonneville County Courthouse and told investigators that while surfing the internet for car parts, he received an “FBI warning box” on his phone stating there is pornography on it. Hernandez-Maldonado denied searching for the sexually exploitive images and he gave his phone to deputies.

Investigators uncovered searches and web history of someone looking at child pornography on the phone all the way back until 2018. Someone on the phone had also accessed a database of webcam child pornography in 2018.

Several text messages between the woman who called deputies and Hernandez-Maldonado were on the phone. Hernandez-Maldonado continually denied ever looking up child pornography, but the woman did not buy it.

“Child pornography is so serious, and it doesn’t just ‘pop up’ out of the blue,” the woman texted Hernandez-Maldonado. “You really have to look for that sick stuff. It’s so embarrassing for me to find that on your phone.”

Around the days Hernandez-Maldonado texted with the woman and prepared to meet with detectives activity on the phone decreased. However, there were multiple searches on the phone, including “what charges will I face for accidentally accessing child pornographic content on the internet?”

The forensic interview on the phone showed someone also recently deleted the web search history. However, detectives still uncovered searches for terms like “pedo” and “raped.”

Investigators brought Hernandez-Maldonado back in to confront him about what they found. Hernandez-Maldonado called himself not “tech-savvy” and continued to deny viewing child pornography. Eventually, Hernandez-Maldonado said he saw images of teenage girls but thought they were cartoons. When investigators tried to get specifics, detectives wrote in the probable cause that Hernandez-Maldonado avoided the questions.

“Marco said he has been trying to get rid of this habit (child pornography) or fetish for a while now,” the detective wrote in his report.

Deputies arrested Hernandez-Maldonado last week, and he remains held in the Bonneville County Jail on $70,000 bail. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for Jan. 27.

Although Hernandez-Maldonado is charged with crimes, it does not necessarily mean he committed them. Everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

If convicted of both felonies, a judge could order Hernandez-Maldonado to spend up to 15 years in prison.

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