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By LeAnn R. Ralph
MENOMONIE — A 39-year-old Colfax man has been charged with 11 felony counts of possessing child pornography.
Brian M. Pautz made an initial appearance in Dunn County Circuit Court before Judge James Peterson on May 14.
Judge Peterson had previously set bail for Pautz with a $10,000 signature bond April 17.
Dunn County Sheriff’s Department Investigator Jake Mack received a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children on February 20 of this year indicating on December 22, 2018, Microsoft Online Operations flagged a photograph that appeared to be child pornography. The image originated from a peer-to-peer network, according to the criminal complaint.
In a peer-to-peer network, the “peers” are computer systems connected to each other by the Internet, and files can be shared directly between systems on the network without a central server.
A subpoena of Charter Communications records identified the IP address used to access the image as belonging to a subscriber named Robert Pautz with an address on 870th Avenue in the Town of Tainter.
A search warrant for the address in the Town of Tainter was obtained, and on April 15, deputies executed the search warrant.
A neighbor told deputies both Brian and Robert Pautz were at work. Two bedrooms in the home were identified as one belonging to Brian and the other belonging to Robert, according to the complaint.
Deputies contacted Robert at his place of employment, and Robert said his only electronic devices were a cell phone and a trail camera although several friends and family members would all have access to the Internet through his Internet connection.
Robert told deputies his brother was a “gamer” and would play X-Box every day and into the early morning hours on the weekends, according to the complaint.
Robert gave his cell phone to deputies, but no images were located on the cell phone, and Robert denied viewing any type of child pornography, according to the complaint.
Brian Pautz also was contacted at his place of employment.
Brian Pautz told deputies he owns a cell phone, an X-Box, a work computer and a tablet and that he uses his tablet every day. When he was asked about the image viewed through Microsoft, Brian Pautz said, “I look at stuff,” according to the complaint.
Pautz told deputies they would find “messed up pictures” on his tablet, and when asked if the pictures would be of girls under the age of 18, Brian Pautz said, “yes,” the complaint states.
When investigators asked Brian Pautz how often he viewed pornography, he said he had been addicted to pornography since his divorce in 2010, according to the compliant.
Although his involvement with pornography started around the time of his divorce, Pautz said, the “younger stuff” had happened recently, the complaint states.
Pautz said regular porn was no longer enough, and he had looked for “something else.” Pautz told investigators it was “a fantasy” and that he did not have any urges to “do anything physically,” according to the complaint.
Pautz said he believed the youngest child would be over the age of 10 and that his tablet computer would have pornography involving more than 50 images under the age of 18, according to the complaint.
Pautz told investigators the last time he had viewed child pornography was the night before and that he knew it was illegal, the complaint states.
The criminal complaint describes 11 pornographic photos found on a tablet computer belonging to Pautz with subjects ranging in age from four to six years old and up to 14 to 16 years old. Several of the photographs also depict adult men with children.
Pautz is scheduled for another court appearance July 9.
During the April 17 hearing, as a condition of bail, Pautz was ordered to have no unsupervised contact with people under the age of 18.
Possession of child pornography is a Class D felony. Each count carries a potential penalty, upon conviction, of 25 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $100,000.