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SAWYER COUNTY -- Charges of Class D Felony Possession of Child P*rnography have been filed against Joseph Kavanagh of Hayward, WI after the Sawyer County Sheriff’s Department received a report from the Division of Criminal Investigations indicating that an image of child p*rnography was reported to have been downloaded to an IP address belonging to Kavanagh.

The criminal complaint filed against Kavanagh states that on October 3, 2018, the Sawyer County Sheriff’s Department received the report from the Wisconsin Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) stating that an image of child p*rnography had been downloaded in June 2018 to an IP address belonging to Kavanagh.

DCI investigated the tip and confirmed through Charter Communications that the IP address did belong to Kavanagh and obtained multiple email addresses also belonging to Kavanagh.

A search warrant was granted by Sawyer County Judge John Yackel to seize and search Kavanagh’s electronic devices that connect to the internet, and a Sawyer County Deputy responded to Kavanagh’s address to interview Kavanagh and collect those electronic devices.

The criminal complaint goes on to state that Kavanagh was interviewed, and that he confirmed that he has lived at the residence since 2015 and that no other adults live there and that no one else visits who utilizes the internet unless they are using his devices.

When the Deputy questioned Kavanagh about the image identified by the cyber tip, he appeared confused and stated that he has never looked at child p*rnography. He went on to state that he does look at adult p*rnography on the internet and that sometimes child p*rnography “pops up”, but that he closes out of it.

After further interviewing, Kavanagh told the Deputy that he has searched for father/daughter sex when looking for p*rnography online, and that he does not type in a certain age, but that he looks for images of females who appear to be “developed”. He went on to state that while trying to exit out of an image containing a younger child, he may have accidentally downloaded the image instead.

Various electronic devices, including a smart TV, a tablet, and a smartphone were seized from Kavanagh’s residence and sent to the Division of Criminal Investigation Crime Lab to be forensically examined.

Online circuit court records show that on October 5, 2018, Kavanagh was placed on a $2,500 cash bail bond, which was later amended to $1,500 and posted. Conditions of Kavanagh’s bail bond prohibit him from having any contact with anyone under the age of 18 except through the permission and supervision of the Sawyer County Department of Health and Human Services.

The maximum penalty for a charge of Class D Felony Possession of Child P*rnography is imprisonment for 25 years, a maximum fine of $100,000, or both.

Kavanagh appeared in Sawyer County Circuit Court on October 16, 2018, for a preliminary examination hearing at which time the Court found probable cause to bind his case over for trial. He is due back in court in December 2018 for an arraignment hearing.

Pursuant to the direction of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, as found in Supreme Court Rule 20:3.6, Trial Publicly, you are advised that a charge is merely an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.


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