Columbia man pleads guilty to possession of child pornography

Tuesday, December 20, 2011 | 6:14 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — A Columbia man pleaded guilty Monday to one count of possession of child pornography in Boone County Circuit Court.

Joel W. Hartenbower, 39, will be sentenced Feb. 21.

On March 1, police obtained a warrant to search Hartenbower's home. 

Police had received a tip from a man who visited Hartenbower's home, said Detective Andy Anderson, coordinator of the Boone County Sheriff's Department Cyber Crimes Task Force. The man said Hartenbower had child pornography on one of his computers.

Detectives with the Cyber Crimes Task Force and one Columbia police officer seized two computers, an iPad, several flash drives and an external hard drive during the search, Anderson said.

An examination of one of the computers revealed hundreds of files of assorted videos and pictures of children thought to be as young as 2 to 4 years old engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

Hartenbower was arrested without incident on March 8. He was released later that day after posting $60,000 bail.

Assistant prosecuting attorney Merilee Crockett said Hartenbower should serve eight years in prison for the crime. Possession of one video or 20 or more photographs of child pornography is considered a class B felony and can carry a five- to 15-year sentence, Crockett said.

Hartenbower had multiple videos and multiple photographs, Crockett said.

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