Sunday, January 21, 2018
Public safety

Court records: Microsoft alerted authorities to Largo man's child pornography

LARGO — The police came to her mobile home with a search warrant and a revelation. Your husband, Sharon Stuart was told, may keep child pornography.

"I was just so shocked," she said. "He just said, 'Sorry. Sorry this happened.' "

David Stuart, 27, was arrested in April on 15 counts of child pornography possession. A Pinellas County search warrant receipt, obtained Tuesday by the Tampa Bay Times, revealed Stuart had uploaded at least 3,046 "child erotica" images to his Microsoft SkyDrive, a free online data storage application. Microsoft's internal security found the photos in March, according to the warrant, and tipped off authorities.

But Sharon Stuart, 32, said she doesn't believe the father of her son, 3-year-old Skyler, would commit such a crime.

"He's a very loving father and a good provider to us," she said. "It's not true."

On March 5, Microsoft, headquartered in Redmond, Wash., reported suspicious activity on David Stuart's SkyDrive account to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Alexandria, Va. The organization's "Cybertip reports" were then forwarded to the Central Florida Internet Crimes Against Children task force, which notified Largo police.

Many of the photos, traced to an IP address at Stuart's mobile home on Melody Lane, were elaborately produced by now-shuttered websites, according to the warrant. The young victims wore adult clothing and make-up.

By federal law, web juggernauts like Microsoft, Google, Facebook and Twitter must report possible child pornography on storage applications and social media.

Michelle Collins, vice president of the NCMEC's exploited children division, said the organization last week received 6,100 alerts.

"The Internet has provided more opportunities for individuals to trade these images," she said, "and, at the same time, more opportunities for law enforcement to detect these violations."

Police seized files from Stuart's home on April 17. Stuart, who had no prior arrests in Florida, was booked into the Pinellas County Jail with bail set at $75,000.

He's at home now, his wife said, looking for a job before his pre-trial court hearing on June 24.

"I was a housewife and now I'm applying for jobs," she said, adding she will soon interview at a local pharmacy. "Whatever happens, I'm staying with him. I'm looking forward to our third anniversary in November."

Danielle Paquette can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4224.

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