Deputy solicits nude photos from 11 year old girl
SPARTANBURG, SC (FOX Carolina) – The Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office said a deputy was arrested by the US Department of Homeland Security and fired amid an investigation into child pornography.
Lt. Kevin Bobo with the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office said Homeland Security contacted the sheriff’s office on Jan. 31 about an active investigation into inappropriate communication with a juvenile female who resides in another state.
“The investigation revealed the telephone number that had been used in the communication with the minor belonged to Sergeant Chris Wilbanks,” Bobo stated in an e-mail.
Bobo said Wilbanks met with Homeland Security investigators on Feb. 3 and was later arrested. His employment at the sheriff’s office was terminated following his arrest.
Bryan Cox, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) confirmed Wilbanks was arrested on a charge related to an ongoing investigation into the transmission of child pornography and was booked into the Greenville County Detention Center.
During a sworn statement, a Homeland Security special agent reported Wilbanks posed as a 14-year-old boy by the alias “Reckneck Rick.” He reportedly used the nickname to communicate with an 11-year-old girl via the app Kik.
The girl told Wilbanks she was 12 during their exchange, the special agent said. Wilbanks reportedly asked her for a “full body” photograph to “see how fit her body was.”
When she initially resisted taking off her clothes, the special agent said Wilbanks told the girl he was upset with her and accused her of lying about her appearance. According to court documents, when the child did not understand certain communications with Wilbanks or perform like he wanted, he blackmailed her by telling her he would show the photos to other people.
The agent said Wilbanks used this coercion tactic to solicit photos of the girl naked.
The documents state Wilbanks received 22 photos of the child, half of which featured her nude or partially nude. Officials said after reviewing the evidence the girl was happy and smiling in the photos where she was full clothing but “as she began removing clothing she was visibly upset and crying.”
When questioned, the document indicates Wilbanks admitted to using the username Redneck Rick on Kik to seek out pornography but said he did not recognize the victim’s username. The agent said when he asked if Wilbanks wanted him to read the conversation between “Redneck Rick” and the child victim, Wilbanks said “he already knew what was in the chat and preferred I did not read it to him.”
He reportedly told the agent he threw his phone in Duncan Creek on the way to the interview.
The case was accepted for prosecution by the US Attorney’s Office and Wilbanks made his first appearance in federal court on Monday, Cox said.
He is charged with production of child pornography, according to the U.S. District Court criminal complaint.