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Hillsborough detective testifies teen's interest in child pornography started with typo

TAMPA — Patrick Melton meant to type "hot rods."

Instead, he typed "hot bods," a detective said in court.

Melton was 9 years old when his search results introduced him to online pornography, he told Hillsborough sheriff's Detective Phil Dubord.

Now 16, Melton stood before a judge Thursday and pleaded not guilty to 50 counts of possession of child pornography. The State Attorney's Office has charged him as an adult. Prosecutors say they may file additional charges, including one against Melton for sharing the illegal images online.

Dubord, who investigated child porn cases for more than a decade with an FBI task force, said he first encountered Melton's illegal activity in December. By March, Dubord had obtained enough information to secure a warrant to search the home that Melton shared with his father on Riverhills Drive in Tampa.

Authorities confronted the boy at Tampa Bay Tech, where Dubord said Melton admitted he had downloaded the images. He told detectives about half of the porn on his computer contained images of children.

Dubord said one of the videos was of a 2-year-old being molested by an adult male.

Prosecutors said an analysis by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement showed the computer contained more than 200 images and videos of child porn.

"I asked him if we did not discover you doing this, would you have eventually acted out on a child?" Dubord told the judge. "And he said maybe."

At Thursday's hearing, Melton's father, James Melton, spoke on his son's behalf. The teen is a good student who does well in math and science, though he struggles with English and reading, his father said.

Patrick Melton's pastor, a retired sheriff's deputy, also told the judge that Melton was "a good kid."

Assistant Public Defender Robert Mactavish appealed to Hills­borough Circuit Judge Wayne Timmerman to reduce Melton's $100,000 bail. The attorney said lower bail could include electronic monitoring.

Assistant State Attorney Rita Peters objected to the bail reduction based on the detective's testimony. She called the teen a danger to the community.

"He has the drive to act out some of the things he sees in the videos," Peters said.

Timmerman wasn't swayed by a defense argument that Melton had done well at home and committed no other offenses between the time he was arrested as a juvenile and released, then rearrested this week on adult charges.

His bail remains at $100,000.

Kevin Graham can be reached at kgraham@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3433.

Hillsborough detective testifies teen's interest in child pornography started with typo 07/23/09 [Last modified: Thursday, July 23, 2009 10:28pm]
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