SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

March 23, 2013

Danvers child porn suspect faces rape charge

BY JULIE MANGANIS
STAFF WRITER

---- — DANVERS — A Danvers man charged last December with distributing child pornography videos from his computer is now expected to face child rape charges, a prosecutor said in court yesterday.

Erick Resto, 23, of 43 Nichols St., was in Salem District Court yesterday for what had been scheduled to be a probable cause hearing in the child porn case when prosecutor John Brennan told a judge that he’s about to present Resto’s case to a grand jury.

And, Brennan told Judge Robert Brennan (no relation) that he will also ask the grand jury to indict Resto on a charge of child rape, after investigators discovered an image of a girl performing a sex act with Resto on Resto’s iPhone. Investigators have interviewed the girl, who is a teenager, said the prosecutor.

The information came as Resto’s lawyer, Jeffrey Sweeney, argued for Resto’s release, citing several delays in the probable cause hearing and no attempt by the district attorney to present the case to a grand jury in the three months since Resto’s arrest in early December.

“It’s been three months,” Sweeney argued. “It’s inexcusable.” Sweeney said Resto has lost his Social Security benefits as a result of being jailed, and urged the judge to dismiss the more serious of the two charges already pending as a “sanction” to the prosecution.

Judge Brennan, who said the case sounds “extremely strong,” rejected the request, although he did reduce Resto’s original bail from $50,000 to $30,000. Resto is unlikely to make that bail either. But the judge also noted a recent Supreme Judicial Court opinion that emphasized the need for prosecutors to move more swiftly in either presenting cases to grand juries or proceeding with probable cause hearings. (Both proceedings are a means of sending cases to Superior Court).

The prosecutor said in court that he expects to have the case in front of the current grand jury by next week.

Resto was charged after police investigating peer-to-peer file sharing networks came upon one user who was offering access to images of “hard core pre-teen” pornography, according to state police Trooper James Dowling’s report.

An investigator then accessed Resto’s computer over the network himself and downloaded 14 videos, ranging from less than a minute to more than 15 minutes, depicting girls engaged in sexual activity with adults. Resto was identified after police traced the Internet Protocol, or IP, address of the computer to a woman in Danvers; she told officers she had been letting Resto stay with her.

According to a police report, after Resto’s room was searched, he confessed to looking at the images and acknowledged that he has a problem.

He’s due back in court April 1 for a status hearing.

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at jmanganis@salemnews.com or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.