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Man charged in child porn case

<p>John Tucker</p><p>Brian DeLima</p>

By JOHN BURNETT

Tribune-Herald staff writer

A 56-year-old Pahoa man was arrested late Wednesday night and taken to Honolulu to face two federal charges of sexual exploitation of children.

The complaint, filed Thursday, alleges that John Ridgely Tucker produced pornography of himself and two children around 2008.

Tucker was arrested at 9:40 p.m. Wednesday at the Hale Makamae Bed and Breakfast in Leilani Estates subdivision, which is owned and operated by Tucker and his wife, Petra Wiesenbauer.

A website for the couple’s lodging facility urges prospective guests to “feel welcome in our warm family environment — we love children.”

Tucker, who is represented by Hilo attorney Brian DeLima, made his initial court appearance Thursday afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Kurren, who ordered him to appear for a preliminary hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kevin S.C. Chang on Oct. 25 at 2 p.m. in Honolulu.

DeLima said he agrees with an FBI statement that suspects are innocent until proven guilty. He declined further comment.

A court affidavit filed by FBI Special Agent Ethan G. Cumming said the investigation was initiated by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which received several digital images of a man performing sexual acts with two children. It stated that one of the images “showed a 2008-2009 telephone book issued by Hawaiian Telcom for the Island of Hawaii in the background.” Cumming wrote that the same images had turned up during an unrelated investigation by the Phoenix FBI office.

On Tuesday, the FBI asked for the public’s help in identifying the man in the photos. “Within hours, several callers identified the individual as John Tucker,” the document stated.

The FBI located the two alleged victims, one a 10-year-old boy, the other, a 7-year-old girl. On Wednesday, the children were interviewed by state authorities and were shown the pictures. According to the document, both identified themselves in the photos, and said the man was Tucker. The children said the acts occurred at Tucker’s home.

A search warrant was executed Wednesday on the bed and breakfast, which is also Tucker’s residence, and a tower computer was confiscated in the search. The affidavit states that the computer contained child porn images.

The government asked the judge to keep Tucker in custody because of the nature of the charges, the danger Tucker presents to the community and because he’s a flight risk, Assistant U.S. Attorney Larry Tong said.

DeLima agreed Tucker should stay in custody, but said he may seek reconsideration at a later date, Tong said.

Tucker is being held at the Federal Detention Center in Honolulu.

Each charge carries a possible sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

The Associated Press contributed.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

 

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