Crime

Richland man allegedly caught with 20,000 pictures and videos of child porn

Tri-City Herald

A Richland man is accused of having more than 20,000 pictures and video clips of child pornography on his computer, including one of the most downloaded series in the world featuring a Tri-City girl.

Joshua P. Gault, 38, allegedly was caught when a friend working on his laptop discovered several videos with titles about children and various sex acts.

While analyzing all of the images, investigators also found evidence that Gault had sex with an unconscious woman in his home, court documents said.

The woman, who believes she may have been intoxicated at the time, told authorities she did not remember the incident and did not give Gault permission to have sex with her or record her, documents said.

Gault is charged in Benton County Superior Court with nine sex crimes. He recently asked to postpone his trial to March 26.

Court documents show that the friend was using Gault’s computer when they found between 50 and 75 videos with suspicious titles, and opened two to see what appeared to be young kids engaged in sex acts.

Police searched Gault’s home and seized the laptop computer, a desktop tower, cellphone and other electronic devices. Many of the images found on his devices “were of known and previously identified child victims,” including the preteen girl who was the subject of the “Vicky” series, documents said.

That girl, who now is an adult, was raped repeatedly by her Richland father during weekend visits more than 12 years ago. He made her dress up like a hooker and talk dirty, and bound her with ropes while he documented the sexual abuse, which went on to become one of the most prolific series in child-pornography circles.

Prosecutors allege the pictures and videos in Gault’s possession also included kids who were toddler age.

Detectives linked Gault to an earlier investigation during which an unknown person sent an illicit video — showing a preteen girl having sex with an adult man — to an undercover officer, court documents said. That image allegedly came from Gault’s IP address, and later was recovered during the forensic examination of his laptop.

Gault is charged with second-degree rape, voyeurism, first-degree dealing in depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct, and one count of second-degree and five counts of first-degree possession of child porn.

He has been out of custody since posting bond on $100,000.

Until the case is resolved, he has been ordered to have no contact with minors and to stay off the internet unless it is for “school purposes,” documents said.

Kristin M. Kraemer: 509-582-1531, @KristinMKraemer

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