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Willmar man pleads guilty to charges of child pornography

WILLMAR -- A 20-year-old Willmar man pleaded guilty Tuesday in Kandiyohi County District Court to three felony charges for possessing pornographic material.

A total of 33 additional felony charges for possessing and disseminating child pornography against Brent Lee Peterson will be dismissed as part of a plea agreement.

He will be sentenced Nov. 3 by Judge Donald M. Spilseth.

During the plea hearing, Peterson's attorney put on the record that his client is autistic, has Asperger's syndrome, takes multiple medications and was recently hospitalized, according to first assistant Kandiyohi County Attorney Connie Crowell, who prosecuted the case.

Asperger is one of the conditions in the autism spectrum. Peterson will receive a guideline sentence in what Crowell called a "tough case."

Peterson was charged with 36 felonies after the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children confirmed that 18 files from his computer contained photos of known child pornography victims. Two counts, under different provisions of the law, were filed regarding each of the victims, Crowell said.

An investigation began last August after the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force referred the case to local law enforcement.

As part of an undercover operation, pornography files offered for distribution were discovered on another computer located in Buffalo and were traced to an Internet protocol address in Willmar.

The files included photos of prepubescent females displaying their genitals, and of naked boys and girls performing sexual acts.

Last September, police searched Peterson's home and seized a computer and other equipment.

Forensic examination of the hard drive identified all the confirmed child pornography files downloaded by the ICAC officer. In addition, 108 additional files, images or movies were located that depicted child porn.

The computer also contained multiple files of the same person, who was known to be underage.

Willmar Police sent 84 images and 15 movies files of pre-teen and young teen girls to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to authenticate as child pornography. The center confirmed that 18 files contained child pornography of known child victims.