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Child porn pandering suspect arrested in Huron

Emil Whitis • Mar 13, 2013 at 9:39 AM

James Campbell, 41, was charged with two felony counts of pandering obscenity involving a minor.  

"It's the worst I've ever seen," Erie County Chief Deputy Jared Oliver said. "All of it is bad, but this takes it to a different level. It was adult males having sexual relations with prepubescent girls." 

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Campbell was employed in the late 1990s as a social worker at a Clark County children's home. 

The investigation began about a year ago, when the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children task force zeroed in on an IP address assigned to Campbell's computer. The task force went to a file-sharing website that featured child porn, downloading 13 photos and two videos as evidence. They then scribbled down the IP address of the host computer and, after obtaining a judge's consent, traced it to 406 Tecumseh Place in Huron. 

Investigators called Huron police on May 31. About two weeks later, Huron officers obtained a warrant to the search the home, only to find it empty. 

The landlord told police that Campbell moved out two weeks earlier — the same day investigators called Huron police. Officers then learned Campbell had moved in with his parents on Kelleys Island, so they turned the case over to Erie County deputies. 

Deputies served a search warrant June 21 at 932 W. Lake Shore Drive on Kelleys Island. Campbell was "nonchalant" as they seized his computer and several external hard drives, Sheriff's Sgt. Nick Kotsopoulos said. 

Deputies sent the bundle of material to the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children task force, whose analysts set to work. In the months following, investigators turned up more than 90 child porn videos and 44 photos on a 300-gigabyte external hard drive, all allegedly belonging to Campbell. 

Deputies received the final report Tuesday and arrested Campbell in the 400 block of Munsee Place in Huron.

"He called in a couple of times. Once to tell us he'd moved back," Kotsopoulos said. "He knew it was coming." 

At least one Munsee Place neighbor was shocked to see police and deputies on her street, although the surprise wore off when she noticed it was Campbell's home. 

"I had a dream about him getting arrested when he first moved in," the neighbor said. "Then it really happened this morning." 

The woman said she didn't know Campbell's name and she never saw him outside during the day. He'd hop into his car at night and disappear, so the neighbor just figured he worked second shift. 

She said she never saw a single guest at his cottage-style house. 

Huron police Chief Bob Lippert and Kelley's Island police Chief Ron Ehrbar said Campbell's name didn't pop up in any incident reports. 

"He didn't show any signs of that kind of behavior when he was here," Ehrbar said. 

Other than a few traffic tickets, Campbell's record appeared to be squeaky clean until the investigation. During an interview with deputies Tuesday, he allegedly admitted to downloading the child porn. He said it all started about two years ago, when he stumbled on some child porn while searching for music on the Internet, according to Kotsopoulos. 

He also told deputies he once worked for the department of job and family services in Clark County. And in fact, a human resources employee at that agency said Campbell was a social worker at a Clark County children's home from Jan. 26, 1999, to Sept. 10, 1999. 

It's unclear why he left, although a Clark County official said she'll provide his personnel file today. The children's home shut down about two years ago.   

Oliver said the case is headed to the Erie County grand jury. Campbell could possibly face one charge per item — up to 134 counts of pandering obscenity involving a minor. 

He remains in the Erie County jail without bond. 

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