Denver man charged with child porn after social media vigilante poses as 13-year-old girl

By on June 28, 2016
Michael A. Kova

A 23-year-old Denver man tried to chat with a Facebook user he believed was a teenage girl looking to have sex, but was instead exposed by a social media vigilante, police said.

The man, Michael A. Kovall, of 42 Scenic Drive, was caught on video by a private citizen trying to talk to the user he thought was a 13-year-old girl, police said.

Kovall admitted he tried to chat with the Facebook user and that he believed she was only 13, court records show.

He also admitted to viewing 50 photos of child pornography within the past year, according to a criminal complaint filed in the case. A search of Kovall’s Toshiba laptop turned up 12 images of child pornography, the court records state.

Police in East Cocalico Township charged Kovall with two felony counts of child pornography and one felony count of criminal use of a communication facility, a third-degree felony.

He was arraigned June 21 in front of Magisterial District Judge Nancy Hamill. Bail is set at $15,000. Formal arraignment is scheduled for July 22.

The arrest was made based on the video recorded by the private citizen who posed as a 13-year-old girl, whom police did not identify.

The citizen’s motive is to catch adults attempting to talk to underage girls, police reports state, an effort similar to that in the popular NBC reality series “To Catch A Predator.”

A tipster directed the video to local police.

Local police and the Lancaster County district attorney’s office have had no communication with the Facebook administrator, district attorney spokesman Brett Hambright said.

“We don’t advise the tactics used by this particular Facebook administrator. Even with good intentions, such behavior, if reckless, can be problematic,” Hambright said. “We are not aware of any link this administrator has with law enforcement, or if the administrator has contacted police about any of the chat activity included on the Facebook page. The administrator didn’t in the case involving Mr. Kovall.”

No charges are being pursued against the Facebook user within Lancaster County, Hambright said.

Police did not immediately return calls seeking more information.

Jonas Fortune is a staff writer at LNP.

 

 

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