A Harrison man and his adult grandson face multiple felony charges after state agents accused them of downloading and sharing child pornography.
Agents with the state Attorney General’s Office charged Thomas Franklin Vincent Jr., 63, of Garfield Street with 31 felony counts that include sexual abuse of children and criminal use of a communications facility.
Vincent was released from custody on a unsecured bond to await a preliminary hearing Nov. 1 before District Judge Carolyn Bengel.
Agents also charged Vincent’s grandson, Thomas Franklin Vincent III, 20, who lives with him. He faces 11 felony counts that include sexual abuse of children and criminal use of a communications facility.
He was released Monday from the Allegheny County Jail after a $300 cash bond was posted on his behalf by a family member, court records show. He is scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing before Bengel next Wednesday.
Agents from the Attorney General’s Child Predator Unit began tracking the elder Vincent’s internet usage in early May after a program was used to help detect child pornography that is being shared online, they wrote in a criminal complaint.
Investigators said they used the program on May 3, 4 and 5 and again on Sept. 22 to track scores of videos that were being downloaded to the computer in the Vincents’ home over a BitTorrent network that automatically shared the images with other users.
Agents were able to identify the elder Vincent after getting a subpoena ordering Comcast to release the information, the complaint said.
After getting a search warrant, state agents and Harrison police raided the Vincents’ home Friday and confiscated a computer, where numerous files containing child pornography were found during a forensic analysis.
The elder Vincent agreed to talk to investigators. He told them he began viewing child pornography about a year ago after he received a file through Reddit and began searching the internet for more, the complaint said.
He told them some of the videos he viewed involved the sexual assault of babies and toddlers.
Agents said they found more than 200 files containing child pornography on the elder Vincent’s cellphone.
He told investigators he knew how file-sharing networks operated but was unaware that when he downloaded a file onto his computer using BitTorrent, it automatically was available to anyone else using the network, the complaint said.
Vincent’s grandson, who was at home when the agents served the search warrant, told them that he, too, was viewing child pornography, the complaint said.
Investigators said they confiscated his cellphone and found numerous files of child pornography.
Vincent III told the agents he knew it was illegal to possess child pornography, but he downloaded the files because he wanted to report it to law enforcement, the complaint said. He also told them he has a “problem” with viewing adult pornography.
When questioned, Vincent III admitted he was not working for any law enforcement agencies and has no training in how to conduct child pornography investigations, the complaint said.
Agents said they found 30 files of suspected child pornography on his cellphone and confirmed that it showed people younger than 18 engaged in sexual activity after viewing 10 of the files, the complaint said.
Tony LaRussa is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tony by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .