Upstate deputy arrested in child porn investigation

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SPARTANBURG CO., S.C. (WSPA) — A Spartanburg County sheriff’s deputy has been arrested by Homeland Security, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

On Tuesday, January 31 the Sheriff’s Office was alerted by the Department of Homeland Security about an investigation that involved Chris Wilbanks and inappropriate communication with a juvenile in another state.

Sergeant Wilbanks was arrested Friday as part of that ongoing investigation into child pornography, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Wilbanks was arraigned in federal court on Monday morning. He faces a charge of intention to induce or coerce a minor into a sexually explicit act with the purpose of producing a visual depiction of the conduct. In the hearing, Assistant William Wilkins says the former deputy attempted to get pictures from the minor between January 2 and 4th.

Court documents show an 11-year-old girl in Washington state was taken to the police department after her mother discovered that the girl was sending nude photos to a person over the app Kik.

An investigation revealed that the 11-year-old girl had been speaking with a user by the name of “Redneck Rick” on Kik who claimed to be a 14-year-old boy in her class. Conversations on the Kik app between the girl and “Redneck Rick” revealed that he was asking the girl to send him pictures of her naked so he could see how “fit her body was.” Court documents say that “Redneck Rick” would threaten the girl with disseminating the naked photos if she didn’t send additional photos. Court documents state that in several of the photos the girl was crying or appeared to be upset. The app revealed the girl had sent 22 photos in all. Court documents say “Redneck Rick” asked the girl to send him pictures of her masturbating.

Homeland Security used phone records to track the IP address for the phone “Redneck Rick” was using. Court documents say that led them to deputy Chris Wilbanks’ phone.

Homeland Security agents interviewed Wilbanks on the 31st of January, to which he revealed to them that he had destroyed his phone on the way to the interview. Wilbanks also admitted that he was Redneck Rick and that he created new profiles and usernames on Kik often. Wilbanks also told officers that he would often enter group chats on Kik looking for pornography and even send child pornography through the app. Wilbanks stated this was the first time he had ever had a one on one conversation through the app.

No bond was set at the arraignment, as the prosecutor moved for immediate detention.

Wilbanks could face 15 to 30 years in prison and possible lifetime supervision if he’s found guilty.

Wilbanks was terminated from the sheriff’s office on Friday, according to the department. Wilbanks had been an employee of the department for 18 years.

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