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Former East Helena police chief suspected of distributing child pornography appears in court

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 MISSOULA—The former East Helena chief of police had an initial appearance today on a criminal complaint accusing him of distributing child pornography, Acting U.S. Attorney Leif M. Johnson said.

A criminal complaint filed in the case and unsealed today alleges that William Daly Harrington, 42, of Helena, distributed child pornography. The crime has a mandatory minimum penalty of five years to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and five years to life of supervised release.

A criminal complaint is only an accusation, and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Harrington voluntarily surrendered this morning and was taken into custody by the FBI. The arrest is the result of a joint investigation between the FBI and the Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s Office as part of the FBI’s Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force.  

U.S. Magistrate Judge Kathleen L. DeSoto presided. Harrington was detained pending further proceedings.

According to the criminal complaint and affidavit filed in support of the complaint, in September 2020, a law enforcement officer began investigating a Cybertip to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s CyberTipline, a national centralized reporting system for the online exploitation of children.  The court documents alleged that the investigation led to a Facebook account that used a fictitious name and was created and controlled by Harrington, who was the East Helena chief of police.  The documents further allege that Harrington distributed child pornography to the Facebook account of another individual on multiple occasions.

The FBI, Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s Office, Bozeman Police Department and Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force investigated the case.

PACER case reference. MJ-21-9.


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