February 26th, 2024

Forensic assessment ordered for man caught with child porn


By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on February 10, 2024.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

A Lethbridge man who, over several years, collected thousands of images and videos of child pornography, has been ordered to have a forensic assessment before he is sentenced later this spring.

Ahren Fegbeitel pleaded guilty recently in Lethbridge court of justice to one charge of possession of child pornography, but instead of sentencing the accused, the court ordered an assessment through the Forensic Assessment Outpatient Service (FAOS) in Calgary.

The assessment is to include the accused’s background, risk to re-offend, a diagnosis of possible mental illness, determination of whether there is any brain damage and how it could impact his behaviour, treatability and conditions of a community based sentence that could be helpful or harmful.

Fegbeitel, 39, was living in the basement of his mother’s home on the Westside when he was arrested July 5, 2023 and charged with possession of child pornography, accessing child pornography and distributing child pornography.

On March 6 of last year a Calgary police officer assigned to the Southern Alberta Internet Child Exploitation Safe Unit began conducting an online investigation into the distribution of child pornography using peer-to-peer file-sharing networks. During his investigation he discovered the user of a specific IP address possessed child pornography, and tied the address to Fegbeitel.

During a search of the home police found and seized numerous electronic devices, including two computer towers, two external hard drives, a computer tablet, and an SD card.

A forensic examination was conducted on the computer devices, including an Acer computer that was operating at the time of the search.

“When this device was located, two peer-to-peer file-sharing programs…were running and sharing files with other users,” Crown Prosecutor Tara Hayes told court. “Child pornography files were in the process of being downloaded to this device…at that time.”

On that computer alone, the forensic examiner found 29 child pornography files in a share-file folder, containing 758 images and 230 videos.

A forensic examination of other electronic devices identified thousands of additional images and videos, many going back to 2016. One of the external hard drives contained nearly 100,000 images, and more than 400 videos.

“On July 5, 2023 the accused provided a statement to the police following his arrest,” Hayes said. “The accused continues to admit that he was aware that child pornography was illegal, but had been downloading it for years. He has tried to stop collecting child pornography but has not been able to stop.”

The matter is scheduled to return to court April 9 for an update on the progress of the FAOS assessment and subsequent report. Once the report is completed, a date for sentencing will be scheduled.

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