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Registered sex offender facing federal child pornography charge

Crime Watch

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Joseph D. Hornof | Bingham County Jail

BLACKFOOT — A registered sex offender whom investigators say possessed child pornography is now facing federal prison time.

After an Internet Crimes Against Children task force arrested 38-year-old Joseph D. Hornof in May, federal prosecutors presented the case to a federal grand jury. Hornof was then indicted on a single federal distribution of child pornography charge. According to the indictment obtained by EastIdahoNews.com, it is alleged Hornof knowingly distributed at least one image of sexual abuse of a prepubescent child.

Investigators were tipped off in February about Hornof after the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children got a tip about child pornography tied to Hornof’s social networking account, according to an affidavit of probable cause. Court documents describe six horrific and graphic images of children being sexually abused.

RELATED | Registered sex offender arrested for child pornography

In March, a detective tied to North Carolina’s ICAC Task Force contacted Idaho authorities. The detective informed local investigators that Hornof was tied to a case he was investigating.

The North Carolina detective’s case file said Hornof unknowingly contacted an undercover law enforcement account online and mentioned he’d had sexual contact with young girls. Hornof would refer to the girls as pizza and would refer to their age by how aged the cheese was, according to court documents.

Hornof then allegedly sent the sexually explicit images to the undercover detective.

In the online messages, Hornof claimed to have had sexual contact with a child in 2012, three years after being convicted for sex abuse of a child under 16 in Bannock County. Court records show a judge placed Hornof on a rider program before he was released on probation.

With the federal indictment, eight Idaho charges of sexual exploitation of a child were dismissed.

A detention hearing for Hornof is scheduled for Tuesday to determine if he should be released from jail or granted bail pending his federal jury trial.

Although Hornof is accused of a crime, it does not necessarily mean he committed it. Everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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