POCATELLO — Two local men were arrested and charged with numerous sex crimes against children following an Idaho Office of the Attorney General investigation, officials with the office said Thursday.
Steven Erwin Hansen, 37, of Pocatello has been charged with eight counts of felony sexual exploitation of a child via the internet, and Liam Arthur Rollins, 30, also of Pocatello, has been charged with 14 counts of felony distributing child sexually exploitative material, according to court records.
The charges against Hansen stem from an Internet Crimes Against Children, or ICAC, investigation through the Idaho Office of the Attorney General initiated on July 29, according to police reports the Idaho State Journal obtained Thursday.
ICAC investigators on July 29 received two CyberTip reports from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that indicated Hansen uploaded three images depicting child pornography to his Verizon cloud storage account on June 21, police said. The CyberTip also included Hansen’s phone number and email address associated with his Verizon account, police said.
Police on Aug. 12 sent a subpoena to the third-party company that operates cloud storage from Verizon for account information related to Hansen and within minutes received a response that the information did not exist, police said.
Using Hansen’s cellphone number, investigators were able to obtain information that indicated Hansen lived on the 800 block of North Garfield Avenue in Pocatello, police said. Using Hansen’s email address, investigators were able to obtain information from Yahoo indicating Hansen accessed his email with a specific IP address on June 17, according to police.
The investigator then sent a subpoena to the internet service provider that the IP address belonged to and was provided information that said the IP address belonged to Hansen, police said.
On Sept. 5, the ICAC investigator received another CyberTip that indicated Hansen uploaded five additional images depicting child pornography to his Verizon cloud storage account on Aug. 16, police said.
All of the images depicting child pornography showed underage girls being forced into various sex acts with adults or showed nude underage girls, police said.
ICAC investigators and Pocatello police officers executed a search warrant at Hansen’s home on Oct. 26, said police, adding that Hansen was observed leaving the residence and was stopped, detained and transported to the Pocatello Police Department for questioning following a traffic stop.
Hansen refused to answer any questions without an attorney present, police said.
During the search of Hansen’s home, police uncovered hundreds of images that contained child sexual abuse material, police said.
Hansen was subsequently charged with the eight counts of felony sexual exploitation of a child via the internet, arrested and booked into the Bannock County Jail in Pocatello where he remained incarcerated as of Thursday evening.
Separately, the incident involving Rollins also stems from an ICAC investigation that began to unfold on April 7, police said.
ICAC investigators received a CyberTip that stated Kik Messenger, a free instant messaging mobile app with an internal web browser, had identified 15 videos depicting child sexual abuse materials that were uploaded on March 12, police said.
Kik Messenger identified the videos as being uploaded from an account with the username “thehermit90 and thehermit90_vdp.” That username accessed Kik Messenger using six different IP addresses between July 2019 and March 2021, police said.
The first IP address was found to belong to Rollins and was registered to a home on the 800 block of Wyeth Street in Pocatello with an Idaho State University email address, police said. The other IP addresses were from out of the country via a virtual private network, or VPN, as well as from ISU, police said.
The investigator contacted ISU and was told that the email address belonging to the first IP address belonged to Rollins but that he was no longer a student at the school, police said.
The child sexual abuse material uploaded to Kik Messenger included 10 videos, some of which were uploaded numerous times, depicting children engaged in various sex acts, including one video showing an infant being raped by an adult, police said.
The ICAC investigator submitted a subpoena to ISU and was provided with records related to Rollins’ ISU email account and the times he accessed them on campus, police said. The investigator was able to confirm Rollins’ ISU account was accessed on Feb. 23 and the timestamps matched the times the child porn images were uploaded to Kik Messenger, police said.
ICAC investigators and Pocatello police officers executed a search warrant at Rollins’ home on Wednesday, said police, adding that Rollins was observed leaving the residence and was stopped, detained and transported to the Pocatello Police Department for questioning following a traffic stop. His electronic devices, including a work and personal cellphone, were seized, police said.
Rollins told police investigators that he has uploaded and downloaded child sexual abuse material in the past as a requirement to gain access to a Kik Messenger group, indicating that the youngest child he observed engaged in sexual activity was 2 or 3 years old, police said.
Rollins also admitted to watching pornography because his marriage was struggling and he was drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, police said.
Rollins was subsequently arrested, booked into the Bannock County Jail and charged with 14 counts of felony distributing child sexually exploitative material.
Also on Oct. 26, Adam Wayne Smith was arrested in Coeur d’Alene for alleged enticement of a child over the internet in another separate incident. Smith, of Coeur d’Alene, was booked into the Kootenai County Jail following his arrest. He faces four felony counts of enticing a child through the internet, according to court records.
Hansen appeared in front of 6th District Judge David Hooste on Wednesday, during which the judge set Hansen’s bond at $75,000. Hansen is due back in court on Nov. 3 for a preliminary hearing in which prosecutors will attempt to prove there is enough evidence against him to elevate the case from magistrate to district court for trial.
If convicted of the eight counts of felony sexual exploitation of a child via the internet, Hansen faces up to 80 years in prison and a fine of up to $80,000.
Rollins appeared in front of 6th District Judge Paul Laggis on Thursday, during which Laggis set Rollins’ bond at $15,000. Rollins is due back in court on Nov. 8 for a preliminary hearing in which prosecutors will attempt to prove there is enough evidence against him to elevate the case from magistrate to district court for trial.
If convicted of just one of the 14 counts of felony distributing child sexually exploitative material, Rollins faces up to 30 years in prison and up to $50,000 in fines.