`

Police had probable cause to arrest man at library for child porn possession

October 28, 2014

Even though a man’s possession of child pornography charge was eventually dismissed, his arrest on the matter at a Bloomington library led to other charges. The Court of Appeals Tuesday affirmed the denial of Paul Allen Decker’s motion to suppress, in which he claimed any evidence stemming from that arrest must be suppressed.

Police came to a library in Bloomington on a report that a man was looking at child pornography. The library security guard and two staff members saw Decker looking at images on his computer that one described as “not family-type photos.” There were images of children in diapers and one child laying on a bed with his penis visible.

Decker admitted to the security guard that he often looked at child porn at the library. After speaking to staff, Detective Brandon LaPossa arrested Decker on suspicion of possession of child pornography. Police confiscated a thumb drive in the computer and the computer and evidence from his residence. An interview with Decker led to information regarding acts of child molesting. He was charged with two counts of Class A felony child molesting, four counts of Class C felony child molesting, Class D felony performing sexual conduct in the presence of a minor, and Class D felony possession of child pornography.

Decker sought to suppress the thumb drive, his computer and statements made at the time of and subsequent to his arrest. He alleged officers arrested him without lawful authority and the warrant obtained to search his home was based on information from his unlawful arrest and unlawful seizure of personal property.

The trial court dismissed the possession charge but denied his motion to suppress, leading to this interlocutory appeal in Paul Allen Decker v. State of Indiana, 53A01-1402-CR-90.

The Court of Appeals determined LaPossa had probable cause to lawfully arrest Decker without a warrant. Decker claimed that the detective didn’t attempt to determine if there was any sexual conduct depicted in the images and that mere nudity or bare legal assertion does not indicate whether the materials are even probably pornographic.

LaPossa interviewed staff and the security guard, who said that there was a male looking at child pornography on a library computer. They told the detective about the nature of the images, which disturbed them.  LaPossa even saw some images on the screen that appeared to him to be children in sexual positions. Based on this evidence, he had knowledge of facts and circumstances that would warrant a reasonable person to believe that Decker had committed the criminal act in question.
 

ADVERTISEMENT

Recent Articles by Jennifer Nelson