A Vandalia man charged with 8 counts of possession and 2 counts of disseminating child pornography was found guilty on all counts during a bench trial Wednesday. 37-year old Ryan J. Koontz of Vandalia appeared in Fayette County Court on Wednesday with attorney Ed Veltman for the trial. Following opening statements by Assistant Attorney General Shannon O’Brien for the state and defense attorney Veltman to begin the bench trial, the state called its first witness, Illinois Attorney General’s Office Investigator Tom Verola who testified as to how the Attorney General’s office was drawn to Vandalia in November of 2014 to start the investigation. Verola testified that a program used by his unit honed in on an IP address that had been used to download suspected child pornography and the IAG investigator had in turn been able to upload known child pornography files from the IP address. During Verola’s testimony, a video recorded interview with Koontz was shown during which Koontz admitted to searching for pornography depicting teenage girls while stating that if he came across pornography involving younger aged children, that he deleted it. Koontz also admitted to viewing the images and videos on his laptop computer several times a week. A large part of testimony also centered around the username and password that was used on many of the accounts and such connected to the laptop computer and also a cell phone found during a search warrant executed on the house where Koontz resided. The state’s second witness called was Computer Forensics Examiner Steven Strahm who testified as to the time correspondence between the 921 files containing child pornography downloaded on the computer and times when Koontz was at work. Strahm testified that all of the files were downloaded before and after the times Koontz was at work and on weekends and holidays when Koontz would not have been working. During Strahm’s testimony, short video clips of the videos used as part of the 10 counts charged against Koontz were viewed by Judge Marc Kelly while Strahm read the descriptions of what was pertained in the full videos which depicted victims as young as two years old and file names containing phrases that eluded to victims between four and eight years old being forced to perform sexual acts and having sexual acts performed on them. Following direct and cross examination of both witnesses the state rested its case. Defense attorney Veltman then announced that he would call no witnesses as his defendant was initiating his right to not testify. Following closing arguments and time for Judge Kelly to review the evidence and testimony, Kelly announced his verdict of guilty on all ten counts saying the state had met its burden on the possession charges as well as the dissemination charges. Speaking after the verdict was handed down, Fayette County States Attorney Josh Morrison said that he was happy that a serious offender has been taken off the streets.
The two Class X convictions carry a possible sentence of 6-30 years while the remaining 8 Class 2 felony counts carry possible sentences of 3-7 years in prison. Per state statute, the sentences that will be handed down on each count will be served consecutively. A pre-sentencing investigation will be completed include psychological and sex offender evaluations and a sentencing hearing is set for April 20 at 9am.