Thursday, March 22, 2018

Sex offender arraigned in district court

A registered sex offender was arraigned on his second offense Thursday in district court.

Joseph Wayne Marsh, 36, was charged with one felony count of sexual abuse of children following an investigation during which child pornography was found in his possession. Marsh entered a plea of not guilty.

Judge Blair Jones set bail at $500,000, agreeing with County Attorney Nancy Rohde that Marsh poses a “community risk.”

Although no specific children were victims of the defendant, Judge Jones insisted that “child pornography is not a victim-less crime.”

If Marsh were to post bail, Jones placed specific conditions on his release including house arrest and no access to the internet. Marsh is also barred from entering, or using the internet of, any church facility due to the nature of his crime.

In 2010, Marsh was convicted of the same charge, for possessing child pornography, and is a registered sex offender.

According to court documents, an ongoing investigation started in July 2016 by the Montana Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) identified Marsh as downloading child pornography on various peer-to-peer file sharing networks. These networks were accessed using the internet from his house, the public library, and a local church.

On March 7, DCI Agent Gary Seder executed a search warrant, based on the findings of the investigation, on Marsh’s house, according to court documents. During this search, Seder found a laptop on which the background photo showed an image of child pornography. The computer also contained installed programs of the type used and identified by the DCI investigation.

Following the execution of the search warrant, Marsh was arrested. At his arraignment, Rohde described how Marsh attempted to escape from law enforcement as he was being arrested, and how he continued to fight and struggle with officers once in their custody.

Marsh is charged with sexual abuse of children, a felony. Do to the fact that this is his second offense of this particular crime, if convicted, Marsh faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

According to a news release from DCI, Attorney General Tim Fox will be prosecuting the case in cooperation with Rohde as part of his participation in Montana’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.