Two Lewiston men have been arrested this week after an investigation by the Idaho attorney general’s Idaho Internet Crimes Against Children Unit.
Benjamin C. Martin, 23, is charged with sexual exploitation of a child, a felony, after a multi-agency investigation that culminated in the man’s arrest Wednesday on the 1200 block of Bryden Avenue.
Michael C. Stewart, 43, was arrested Thursday for alleged sexual exploitation of a child and booked into Nez Perce County Jail, the attorney general’s office announced Thursday. No other information was provided on the Stewart arrest Thursday.
Martin was arraigned in Nez Perce County Magistrate Court on Thursday afternoon, where Judge Sunil Ramalingam set a $50,000 bond in the case and ordered pretrial conditions of no contact with minors and no internet should Martin post bond.
Nez Perce County Deputy Prosecutor Kali Jo Parker said during Thursday’s arraignment that Martin was found with more than 100 images and she expected more charges to be filed in the future.
The investigation led by Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden’s Idaho Internet Crimes Against Children Unit had the help of Lewiston and Moscow police, Idaho State Police, U.S. Marshals Service and the Nez Perce County Prosecutor’s Office.
Investigators allege Martin admitted to looking at child pornography since he was 14 years old. He accessed the sexually exploitative images through his Xbox One. Martin told investigators he collected nude images of juveniles from the age of 6 months to 15 years old. Martin told investigators that he thought there were about 60 images on his Xbox. He also told investigators “he knew the images were illegal and immoral,” court records said.
As investigators spoke to Martin on Wednesday, “he made several statements about possibly killing himself and that his life was over,” court records said.
The maximum penalty for felony sexual exploitation of a child in Idaho is 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Ramlingam set a preliminary hearing for Sept. 2 in the case.
The Idaho attorney general’s office encouraged anyone with information regarding the exploitation of children to contact local police, the ICAC Unit at (208) 947-8700 or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-843-5678.
The ICAC Unit works with the Idaho ICAC Task Force, which is made up of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute people who use the internet to criminally exploit children.
Parents, educators and law enforcement officials can find more information and resources at the ICAC website at www.ICACIdaho.org.
Wells may be contacted at email@example.com or (208) 848-2275.