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Ex-Fire Captain Facing Child-Porn Trial

August 6, 2008

By Melinda Rogers, The Salt Lake Tribune

Aug. 6–Former South Jordan fire captain Michael Farnsworth claims he broke no laws by creating a fake MySpace profile and befriending about 90 underage girls while posing as a 21-year-old single man.

Prosecutors, however, suggested the 46-year-old Riverton man’s fascination with talking to teenagers on the popular social networking site is potential evidence linking him to an alleged preference for child porn.

The arguments occurred Tuesday, during a 3rd District Court preliminary hearing where Farnsworth’s attorney, Roger Kraft, claimed the veteran firefighter broke no law by communicating with young girls under the MySpace name of “IRESQU707.”

On Tuesday, he was ordered to stand trial for allegedly downloading child pornography. He is charged in 3rd District Court with two counts of second-degree felony sexual exploitation of a minor.

The Internet Crimes Against Children [ICAC] Task Force determined Farnsworth downloaded “thousands” of pornographic images onto his computer and other electronic equipment, but investigators could pluck just two images from Farnsworth’s collection that were deemed child pornography.

Kraft said Farnsworth inadvertently ended up with the illegal material while trying to access legal adult porn, Kraft said.

“Have you ever downloaded something you didn’t intend to download?” Kraft said while questioning ICAC Capt. Rhett McQuiston.

During questioning by Assistant Utah Attorney General Paul Amann, McQuiston testified Farnsworth had admitted struggling with an Internet porn addiction since the mid-1990s. Farnsworth also admitted seeking child porn in the age range of 13- to 17-year-olds, McQuiston said.

But Kraft claimed Farnsworth made special efforts to visit pornographic Web sites that included disclaimers that the models were over 18.

Farnsworth was an employee of the South Jordan Fire Department from 1991 until he submitted his resignation July 18, 2007, according to the city’s human resources director.

mrogers@sltrib.com

Computer download charge

An Aug. 29 scheduling hearing is set for former South Jordan fire captain Michael Farnsworth, who was ordered Tuesday to stand trial for allegedly downloading child pornography onto the hard drive of his computer. He is charged in 3rd District Court with two counts of second-degree felony sexual exploitation of a minor.

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