BRATTLEBORO - A prosecutor this week said he is "optimistic" about soon resolving a case in which a Guilford man faces five felony child-pornography counts.

In the meantime, though, a judge denied a request to allow Justin Bywater, 36, to attend his child’s baseball games. That request had been opposed by Vermont Assistant Attorney General Evan Meenan, who said prohibitions on Bywater’s contact with minors are "justified for very good reason -- the nature and severity of these cases."

Bywater was charged with possessing child pornography in October. Authorities said Bywater acknowledged downloading child-porn videos for years and had only recently had tried to delete those files from a computer at his Weatherhead Hollow Road home.

The probe into Bywater’s online activities had begun in the summer when an investigator with the attorney general’s office identified an Internet-protocol address as a potential source of suspected pornography files, according to court documents.

The investigator downloaded at least a dozen files containing child porn from that IP address, which was traced to Bywater’s address, according to a police affidavit. Bywater subsequently "admitted that he has downloaded some things that he shouldn’t have," and police found five videos depicting child pornography on a computer seized from his home, the affidavit said.

Bywater told police that he was interested in pornography depicting females aged 12 to 16.

At his arraignment in October, Bywater’s court-ordered conditions of release included prohibitions on using the Internet or even possessing a device that has Internet access.

He was allowed to have contact with minors, but only in the presence of another adult.

During a hearing Tuesday in Windham Superior Court Criminal Division, Meenan told Judge David Suntag he is optimistic that the case’s final pre-trial hearings won’t be necessary because a plea deal is in the works.

"We are working toward a resolution," Meenan said.

That deal, if accepted, would mandate that a probation officer pre-approve Bywater’s participation in events that include children, Meenan said.

The hearing had been scheduled because Bywater wanted the court’s permission to attend T-ball games in which his child is participating. Bywater’s defense attorney, John Mabie, argued that the risk to the public would be "extremely minimal."

"There are lots of parents there," Mabie said. "It’s a public place."

But that’s exactly what concerned Suntag. The judge noted that other parents at those games would not be notified of Bywater’s presence and of the charges he faces.

"I’ll revisit this at the pre-trial (conference), but I’m not ready" to change the conditions of Bywater’s release, Suntag said.

Bywater is due back in court May 29 for that pre-trial conference.

Mike Faher can be reached at mfaher@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.