Kingsport Times-News: A tip from Tumblr results in child porn charges for Hawkins man
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A tip from Tumblr results in child porn charges for Hawkins man

Jeff Bobo • Jun 8, 2019 at 6:00 PM

CHURCH HILL — A Hawkins County man who allegedly created an online Tumblr account last year that he used to store and share more than 100 child porn images was arrested Thursday after Tumblr reported the account to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

The Hawkins County Sheriff's Office was then notified and conducted an investigation with the assistance of Tumblr, Charter Communications and the NCMEC.

As a result of that investigation, Justin Powell Norton, 25, 734 Ordnance Drive, Apt. E1, Church Hill, was arrested Thursday on a Hawkins County grand jury sealed indictment warrant that was issued Monday.

Norton was indicted Monday on charges of aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor related to alleged possession of more than 100 images on the Tumblr account; as well as sexual exploitation of a minor for making that Tumblr account accessible to the public.

Tumblr is a social networking website that allows users to post photos and other multimedia to a personalized blog.

HCSO Detective Keith Long said that after Tumblr reported the child porn site to the NCMEC, they were able to determine the jurisdiction where the Tumblr site originated.

After the HCSO was notified, Long acquired a subpoena to acquire a name from Charter Communications connected to the Internet Protocol address associated with that Tumblr account.

“That's what led me to Mr. Norton and his home address,” Long told the Times News on Friday. “We did a search warrant at his home, but it didn't provide any results outside of what we already had. He opened a Tumblr account, and he would go to another website where you can download child pornography. He would download it, and then he would upload it to his Tumblr account. That's what put him in possession of these photographs.”

Long added, “In his written statement, he told us that he put it on (Tumblr) as 'share,' to where other people could see it. That's what got him the second charge, for distribution.”

Investigators were able to determine that none of the children in the photos is local, and Norton isn't accused of taking any photos.

NCMEC attempts to identify and locate the children in the photos, although it’s often futile because many of the photos originate in foreign countries.

The top count, aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, is a Class B felony punishable by 8-12 years if found guilty.

As of Friday, Norton was being held in the Hawkins County Jail on $50,000 bond pending arraignment in Hawkins County Criminal Court on June 30.

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