Barrett Township, Monroe County -- 20-year-old Tyler Hoffman of Drums appeared Thursday at a preliminary hearing in Monroe County to answer to child pornography charges. The fact he's in custody can be credited to some sophisticated internet tracking. Microsoft developed software called PhotoDNA which can identify images of children in sexually explicit photos. Investigators say Hoffman's Microsoft email account was flagged when he uploaded child pornography images on his cell phone. "Microsoft has certain safeties in place for images of this nature and they would be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, also known as NCMEC," said Tpr. Christopher Hill with the Pennsylvania Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
NCMEC notified police which alerted the Pennsylvania Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. "That aids us because the information comes from NCMEC. It usually is associated with an email address or an IP address which then we can follow up with via a court order or a search warrant," said Tpr. Hill. After he waived his preliminary hearing, Hoffman's case now goes to Monroe County Court for trial unless a plea agreement is reached.
The Hoffman case is just one instance in which state police investigators used that modern computer scan technology to make an arrest. They cite a more significant arrest in Northumberland County in which they took a suspected child pornography manufacturer off the streets. 31-year-old Abraham Gordon of Shamokin waived his hearing on Wednesday concerning more than two dozen child pornography charges. In his case, Google technology led to Gordon's arrest. "Google notified NCMEC of images. We then did a search warrant at the residence, spoke to the person who admitted uploading these images into Google," said Tpr. Hill. Investigators hope these latest arrests are a sign that the modern technology will help them achieve the ultimate goal. "More successful prosecutions and to stop the child porn altogether if possible," said Tpr. Hill.
Gordon remains jailed in Northumberland County where he's expected to plead guilty next month. As for Hoffman, he remains jailed in Monroe County with no timetable set for his next court date.