Westminster man admits to having child porn, receives probation

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BRATTLEBORO >> A 33-year-old Westminster man was sentenced to 10 years of probation on Thursday for possession of child pornography.

In Windham County Superior Court, Matthew Alan Cook was found guilty of four counts of the crime in a plea agreement between him and the state. Cook must register as a sex offender and not use computers or devices that record video without the permission of his probation officer.

"I want to apologize for my actions and stupidity," Cook told the court.

Cook told the judge he shouldn't plan on seeing him again in court.

Cook was a member of the Westminster Volunteer Fire Department. In their investigation of him, police officers searched the Westminster Fire Department, as well as Cook's home and vehicle. In May 2015, Cook had in his possession several images of a child in sexual conduct, investigators said.

On Oct. 17, 2014, a data storage company tipped off the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that it suspected child pornography by a user of an 802 cellphone number. The tip was forwarded to Cpl. Thomas Chenette of the Vermont Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. After an investigation, it was determined the phone number matched Cook's.

In May 2015, Chenette and Detective Matthew Raymond of the Vermont Attorney General's Office interviewed Cook.

"Cook stated he had viewed pornography on his phone using an application that was clarified as 'Tumblr,'" the police affidavit stated.

Cook confirmed his phone number was the same one that was flagged by data storage company. Initially, Cook denied saving images that involved sexual acts, but then described a "dark" time after he was charged with a DUI. Cook told investigators that at that time he used the Internet a lot and accessed websites that contained what he called "child pornography."

"When asked if he had ever worried about law enforcement, Cook said he had meant to delete the images, as he knew they were illegal, but he 'forgot about them,'" according to the affidavit. "He said he had no other images saved on any other type of media, and had no other devices besides those he disclosed."

According to court documents, Cook was originally charged with six counts for possession of child pornography. But two counts were dropped in the plea agreement between the State of Vermont and the defendant.

The judge set several other conditions of probation. Cook must undergo treatment and not have contact with anyone under 16 without his probation officer's permission. However, Cook can visit with young family member while supervised.


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