Anchorage police say a former military day care worker is Alaska's first female child pornography suspect.
Police charged Brittany Alexandra Robinson on Monday with 30 felonies: 12 counts of distributing child pornography and 18 of possessing child porn. Investigators who had been monitoring Robinson's downloading searched her home on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, where she worked for the base's Child Development Center. They discovered Robinson, 21, had downloaded and shared pictures and video showing child sexual exploitation, according to a charging document.
A three-month investigation resulted in the first-ever filing of child pornography against a woman in Alaska, police Lt. Nancy Reeder said. As the vast majority of suspects in such cases are men, members of the police cyber-crimes unit were shocked, Reeder said.
"We weren't expecting it," she said. "I think we were kind of taken aback by it, particularly given her age, and she's pregnant. The big thing was the fact it's a woman. It's an anomaly for sure."
Reeder said Robinson denied having any physical contact with kids at the day care where, according to Robinson's Facebook page, she started working in September. The day care fired Robinson in April when police contacted them, Reeder said. There was no indication that Robinson's husband was involved or was even aware that his wife was downloading the child porn, Reeder said.
According to an Anchorage detective's affidavit, filed in court Monday with the charges, the investigation began online in March:
A detective using special software found an Internet Protocol, or IP, address connected to a computer that was sharing illegal files. The files contained keywords indicating they were possibly child pornography. The IP address appeared to be in Alaska, and further investigation led the detective to a peer-to-peer file-sharing network.
The detective's software allowed him to monitor what the person was downloading from the network and allowed detectives to open and view the files. Several pages of the charging document describe, in detail, dozens of images of children being forced to perform sex acts.
After looking up the IP address and learning it was associated to a General Communications Inc. customer in the Anchorage area, the detective obtained a subpoena ordering GCI to give up the customer's name.
With a search warrant in hand, the detectives and investigators with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations went to the Robinson's Fairchild Avenue home April 9. In an interview, Robinson's husband said they owned two laptop computers, an iPad and another hard drive. One of the laptops was his, he said, and Robinson did not use it. The other he had bought for her as a Valentine's Day present this year.
Then the detectives interviewed Brittany, who said she used the same file-sharing program discovered earlier in the investigation to download music and movies.
"She said the file names she had seen had multiple words in them so she sometimes got what she wasn't expecting," the charges say. "She said she would get pornography that involved children."
But the detectives knew Brittany had actively searched for child porn. Using forensic software, they found traces on her computer of the same files they had seen Robinson downloading. There were remnants of similar files in Robinson's password-protected account on her husband's computer. The computer had a fingerprint scanner that only allowed Robinson to open her account, indicating she was the only one with access to it.
"The husband had absolutely no idea," said Reeder, the police lieutenant. "And there was nothing from what we found, from looking at his computer and interviewing him, nothing that indicated he had knowledge, that he ever downloaded anything. There was nothing at all."
JBER public affairs officials said Robinson is not a service member in either the Army or Air Force, but rather a civilian employee. They would not answer questions about Robinson's husband.
This was not a case of what Reeder called "bycatch": when someone accidentally downloads child pornography while trying to get bootleg movies, for example.
"She didn't go into any indication as to why she was doing it. She definitely knew what it was. She saw that it was child pornography," Reeder said.
Robinson apparently was aware that charges would be coming after the April search and noticed Monday that there was a warrant for her arrest, Reeder said. Robinson contacted a bail bondsman and paid a percentage of the $5,000 bail included in the warrant, thereby avoiding going to jail, the police lieutenant said.
According to cyber-crimes prosecutor Marika Athens, the judge, Gregory Motyka, did not raise Robinson's bail at a Thursday court hearing. Motyka also did not include any bail conditions for Robinson, such as ordering her to stay away from computers or children, Athens said.
"I would prefer that, you know, for the safety of the community, that she not be continuing in the behavior she engaged in that led to these charges," Athens said. "But it's up the judge to make the determination on the safety of the community."
Reach Casey Grove at email@example.com or 257-4589.