HELENA, Montana (AP)
A former aide to state Child and Family Services caseworkers in Helena is charged with sexually abusing a minor.
Andrew T. Lewis of Whitehall pleaded not guilty Wednesday to five felony counts during a hearing before District Judge Loren Tucker. Lewis was released after posting a $25,000 bond.
Prosecutors allege Lewis committed the crimes between August and Oct. 16, when he was arrested.
State health department spokesman Jon Ebelt tells the Independent Record that Lewis was placed on unpaid administrative leave.
Lewis began working for the state in March as a social services technician. Agency officials have said social service technicians spend most of their time transporting children, supervising visits between parents and children, and providing other support services to children and families.
Trial of alleged chronic pedophile begins with no physical evidence
Testimony began Thursday in the Sutter County, California jury trial of a child molestation case in which the defense says there is no physical evidence.
Javier Jimenez, 45, is charged with oral copulation or sexual penetration of a child under the age of 10, sexual intercourse or sodomy with a victim 10 or younger, and lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14.
|Sutter County, CA|
Deputy District Attorney Anu Chopra told jurors in her opening statements that two children, a boy and a girl, will testify that Jimenez molested them each multiple times over a period beginning in July 2008 until the children informed their family member of the behavior in 2012.
In addition, an unrelated woman is scheduled to testify that after she read about Jimenez's arrest in the newspaper, she called to report that the defendant abused her 13 years ago, Chopra said.
Defense attorney Craig Leri said there is no physical evidence to show the alleged incidents occurred, including medical records of the young girl. Medical records show no scarring and that her hymen is intact, he said.
Jimenez had access to the children because he was dating a woman related to the children. That woman took the stand as the first witness.
If he is found guilty, Jimenez faces a life sentence.
According to documents filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Richard Emerich, who has lived on Western Avenue in Brattleboro since late 2014, took pictures of a sexual nature of underaged boys. According to the court documents, Emerich used his profession as a photographer to take the pictures, first for modeling purposes and then to produce images of child sexual abuse.
Emerich was originally identified through the assistance of a cooperating defendant in the State's Attorney's Office for Palm Beach County, in Florida. The defendant, who has not received any guarantees of preferential treatment for cooperating with prosecutors, has also been charged with pornography-related crimes. The defendant told prosecutors they worked as a talent scout and recruiter for "a New England-based photographer," who turned out to be Emerich. "The CD would book teenage boys to model for Emerich, who would fly to Florida from New England and take both non-nude and nude photographs of young boys."
Emerich, who owns and operates RWE Productions, a modeling and photography company in Brattleboro, was asked by the informant to send photographs of underage boys to Florida. Emerich responded by sending an external hard drive and thumb drive via the postal service. Included in the package were business cards from RWE Productions. Emerich's fingerprints were also found on the contents of the package. The hardware was found to contain images of child sexual abuse.
One of the victims was identified by police and he confirmed that he was paid by Emerich to model in the nude, beginning as early as 2007, when he was only 10 or 12 years old.
In April 2015, the cooperating defendant told investigators Emerich was planning to travel to Florida to photograph underage boys. In June, Emerich sent the CD another external hard drive, which contained "thousands of images of minor boys and age-indeterminate males," according to the court documents.
Emerich's "day job," according to the documents, is with TestAmerica, an environmental testing company, which is owned by a hedge fund in Miami, but has offices across the United States, including in Brattleboro.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Barbara Masterson said Emerich is being held pending a detention hearing. If the government's request for detention is approved by a federal judge, Emerich will then be transported to Florida to face the charges.
Masterson said because the investigation is ongoing, she couldn't comment on whether Emerich might have taken illegal pictures of children in southern Vermont. However, if a parent or guardian is concerned, they should contact her office at 802-951-6725.