Two Ahwatukee men face court action for their arrests in separate and unrelated cases of sexual exploitation of children.
Ahwatukee pilot Brian William True faces a potentially long prison sentence after police discovered a series of surreptitiously recorded images of two underaged girls and an adult woman in his cell phone and arrested him Aug. 28, according to court documents.
On Thursday, Sept. 19, Phoenix police detectives and agents with the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force served a search warrant at the home of former teacher William Thomas Baker, 69, and later arrested him after finding numerous images and videos depicting sexual exploitation of minors on his computer.
Although the court documents say the images were recorded in a bathroom of True’s home near 24th Street and Chandler Boulevard, the case against him started when the Benton County, Arkansas, Sheriff’s Office intercepted the downloading of pornography while True was in Arkansas on business.
The images included two girls, 13 and 14, and an adult woman in various stages of undress, the court records say. The girls were changing clothes and taking off their bathing suits while the woman was using a toilet. The recording device was positioned to capture their nude photos, police said.
The victims, apparently, did not notice they were being secretly recorded, although one young victim nearly figured out how her privacy was being violated, the documents said.
An affidavit filed by Phoenix police said the 14-year-old girl is seen taking off her bathing suit, exposing herself.
“She dries herself off, grabs the recording device, examines it, but then puts it back to its original place,’’ the document said. “(It) appears that she is not aware that it’s a recording device and then she puts some clothing on.’’
Det. Luis Samudio, a Phoenix police spokesman, said in an email, “the victims were legitimately visiting the family,’’ but he declined to elaborate, saying the case remains under investigation.
True’s legal problems started when deputies were conducting an investigation about the downloading of illicit images, according to Sgt. Shannon Jenkins, a spokeswoman for the Benton County Sheriff’s Office, which has a cybercrime unit.
“We were investigating and found he was the downloader of the child pornography,’’ she said.
Benton County detectives notified Phoenix police when they realized the images were probably recorded in a bathroom in True’s home, the document said.
The Benton County detectives sent Phoenix police nine files containing images of the three victims, the court documents said. When Phoenix police served a search warrant on Aug. 29 at True’s home, they found the bathroom where the recordings occurred, according to court documents.
“On the first floor of the residence there is a small restroom that contains several identifying characteristics seen in the surreptitious digital recordings, such as the wall tile, the sink and a framed piece of art containing three birds,” the document said.
True, 47, told police he was on business in Benton and was staying at a Comfort Inn in Bentonville, in northwest Arkansas, when sheriff’s investigators “raided’’ his motel room and seized his iPhone and his iPad.
True’s LinkedIn page lists him as a pilot with Cavok Aviation and says he has a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering from Arizona State University.
Jenkins said the Benton County detectives are still investigating the case and that they anticipate seeking sex crime charges against True in Arkansas, where it is also illegal to possess or distribute child pornography.
True is identified in the documents as a “licensed pilot and a high flight risk.’’ It does not say what sort of business True was engaged in during his trip to Bentonville.
“He stopped answering questions when asked if there was anything illegal or concerning about those devices,’’ the document said.
The document says the adult woman was a friend of True. It said True has lived in his home, in the 1300 block of East Rockledge Drive, for nine years.
True’s indictment lists 19 charges, including 10 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor.
The sexual exploitation of a minor charges refers to images of underaged girls stored on a thumb drive. The remaining nine charges accuse True of voyeurism, or violating the victims’ privacy “for the purpose of sexual stimulation.’’
True is being held at a Maricopa County jail in lieu of posting a $200,000 cash bond, according to the county Sheriff’s Office web site. His next court appearance is scheduled for Oct. 24.
If True is convicted of the sexual exploitation of a minor charges, he would face a sentence of five to 15 years in prison on each count under Arizona’s dangerous crimes against children statute.
Baker, who lives in the 4100 block E. Jojoba Road was not home at the time when the warrant was served. Baker was later found and taken into custody.
According to court documents, Baker was an elementary school teacher for several years and was employed at in various elementary schools.
Baker is charged with 10 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor after police acted on tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
He too declined to answer questions, police said, though he admitted no one but he had access to the phone and computer where the images were found.
Baker’s bond has been set at $5,000. His next court date is set for Thursday, Sept. 26.