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Hudson man charged with child porn possession

A North Hudson Pepper Fest board member stepped down from his post the day he was arrested on suspicion of possessing child pornography.

St. Croix County prosecutors on Tuesday, Nov. 7, charged 33-year-old Ryan N. Copeland with four felony counts of child porn possession. The Hudson man was ordered by St. Croix County Circuit Court Judge Michael Waterman to post $20,000 cash bond at an initial hearing Tuesday.

Pepper Fest Board President Tim Zais said Copeland resigned his position on Monday, Nov. 6.

According to a criminal complaint:

Baldwin police were alerted to suspicious images on a phone Nov. 2. A phone was left behind in the Northern Metal Fab breakroom so a manager opened its photo gallery in attempt to determine its owner. The search turned up a nude girl.

Baldwin police next searched the phone and found photos of girls in two-piece swimsuits, in addition to a series of photos depicting the nude girl.

Police then met with Copeland Nov. 2 at the workplace, where they asked him why he had the photos on his phone. He at first denied the photos were there until being confronted with the photo of the girl, which police said was taken of her on his bed.

Copeland identified the girl, saying she was a friend’s daughter whom he had babysat in the past.

He was also confronted about another photo of a bikini-clad girl that police said had embedded GPS data indicating it was shot at his house.

Police received a search warrant to forensically examine the phone, but were cautioned by a St. Croix County sheriff’s office investigator that since the photos were stored in the cloud that they could be remotely deleted.

The officer went back to check on the photos and found they’d been deleted in the past 24 hours.

Police and sheriff’s investigators interviewed Copeland again on Nov. 6. He admitted to remotely accessing the photos from a tablet and deleting them Nov. 2 amid concerns he was “in trouble,” the complaint states.

During the interview, he admitted to taking the photos of the nude child after she got out of a bathtub. He told the officers he did not have sexual thoughts about the child but admitted he didn’t have the parents’ permission to photograph the girl in the nude.

A preliminary hearing in the case was set for Friday, Nov. 10.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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