Task force report on Casas case released

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

25-year-old allegedly admitted having images, movies depicting child porn

A task force report on a Barry County man who was charged in federal court this week with receiving and distributing child pornography over the Internet has been released.

Matthew Casas, 25, of Cassville, was charged in a federal criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court in Springfield. Casas remains in the custody of U.S. Marshals after officers executed a search warrant at his home on Friday morning, according to Mick Epperly, Barry County sheriff.

According to a report filed by Brian Martin, task force officer with the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force, a business in Monett contacted the local police department on Dec. 19, 2013, when a customer who rented a smart TV notified them he discovered child pornography stored on the device's memory.

According to the business' rental contracts, Casas had rented the TV for the longest period of time, and Martin said he had dealt with Casas on previous occasions.

Law enforcement officers reviewed the images on the set, which the report said were believed to be homemade and created by a Kodak Easy Share camera, and depicted an adult male performing sexual acts on a female no older than 12 to 18 months. It did not appear the images had been obtained from the Internet, and Martin's report said, "There is great concern that Casas could be the male depicted sexually abusing the child." The report also said officers have been unable to identify the child depicted in the, what appear to be, homemade images.

On Feb. 14 and Feb. 21, officers received several cybertips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) that a person was allegedly posting images of child pornography to three different Facebook accounts, and 130 images to a Flickr account. All of the images depicted children, from infancy to 10 years old, engaged in sexual poses or involved in sexual acts with an adult or each other. Personnel from Facebook and Yahoo, the parent company of Flickr, closed each account upon learning of its content, and each social media website made reports to the NCMEC.

According to Martin's report, all of the images uploaded to the social media sites came from the same IP address. Martin's report said several of the images from the TV were identical, or depicted other sex acts between the infant and adult male, with the images posted online. There were many more images posted online, including numerous images known to be commercially available and actively traded among child pornography collectors and viewers.

On Feb. 25, investigators learned through Mediacom, the company servicing that IP address, that the uploads came from a home on West 11th Street in Cassville.

Investigators learned utilities at the home were in the name of Henry Casas, Matthew Casas' father.

Task forces officers, aided by members of the Cassville Police Department and the Barry County Sheriff's Department, executed a search warrant at the home on Feb. 28. According to Martin's report, Casas took a considerable amount of time to answer the door, as officers observed he was in the home. Casas opened the door as officers were preparing to force entry.

During an initial interview in a task force officer's vehicle, Casas denied ever looking at child pornography. He later allegedly admitted obtaining the pornography from a coworker at Justin Boots, and that he had posted images on the Facebook and Flickr accounts. He also allegedly admitted owning an SD memory card with pornographic content, about three weeks earlier, that contained thousands of images and hundreds of movies.

Investigators also spoke to Casas' wife, who said she had left Casas after finding the child pornography on his phone. She claims he told her he was selling the pornography, and reported another girlfriend had been told the same by Casas.

Casas' wife reported being fearful of him, as he has allegedly been violent and threatened to harm her because she would not let him see her daughter, for which he is not the father. She also said he had assaulted her on more than one occasion when the two were living together.

Martin's report said task force officers have obtained Facebook messages detailing some of the alleged threats. Casas has been previously arrested several times in the past five years. He has four misdemeanor assault convictions and one conviction for endangering the welfare of a child.

Casas' father, Henry Casas, is a registered sex offender after being convicted in the rape of a 19-year-old female in Bakersfield, Calif. in what Martin said may have been a gang-related incident. The incident occurred in 1989, and Casas was 28 at the time. Martin said Henry Casas is not involved in the case against Matthew Casas, and during an interview, told task force officers he had found the pornography and had confronted Matthew Casas and told him to seek help for his problem of sexual attraction to children.

This case is being prosecuted by Supervisory Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael S. Oliver, and it will be heard by David P. Rush, United States Magistrate Judge, in Springfield.

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