NEWPORT CITY – Federal authorizes have charged John Kuhl with receipt of child pornography. Kuhl allegedly received the images through a cell phone and its national network, which is governed by the FCC.
Kuhl, the former Newport City Dockmaster, is set to go on trial this week for child molestation. In Orleans District Court, he faces three counts of lewd and lascivious conduct with children and four counts of distributing indecent material to children.
The federal charges stem from 2011 when Detective Jennifer Harlow of the Newport Police received a complaint from the parents of two minor children. Court records identify the children as AW and KW. The parents were concerned because Kuhl gave their children money, cell phones and clothing.
During the investigation, Harlow spoke with the stepfather of a third minor identified in court records as ML. ML’s parents told Harlow that they discovered ML had a cell phone. During a search of the phone, they discovered pictures of a nude male’s private area. ML’s parents destroyed the phone. ML denied knowing the male in the picture. She said she received the phone from a friend’s uncle. A week after destroying the phone, ML’s parents discovered their daughter had another phone that contained photos of ML’s private area. ML denied knowing anything about the pictures.
The phone also contained text messages from someone named Johnny. ML told her parents that Johnny was a friend and they could meet him anytime and he was willing to go their home.
City police officers, on April 19, 2011, responded to a 911 call from a girl who said that a man named John inappropriately touched her and her friends. The person used his cell phone to show the juveniles pictures of adult pornography. The juveniles were directed to go the special investigation unit office where they met with Harlow. Through the investigation, police learned the children were talking about Kuhl.
Police, during a search of Kuhl’s home and car, recovered a cell phone. During an interview with police, Kuhl acknowledged the phone was his and it contained the picture of a woman’s private area. Kuhl said the image had been sent to his phone from a phone he previously gave to ML. Kuhl said at the time he received the image he thought an older person sent it.
Court records state that Kuhl touched the outside of ML’s clothes near her lower private area while at AW’s house. ML said she had been around Kuhl for several months but nothing like that ever happened. ML still visited AW’s home because she figured it was safe as long as long as she stayed with AW.
On another occasion, Kuhl approached ML on Main Street and said he wanted to touch AW’s little sister KW. Kuhl told ML if she took pictures of her private area and sent them to him he would not touch KW. Kuhl threatened ML that if she told anyone about it, he would tell everyone that ML had had sex with him and it was her idea.
The next day, ML went AW’s home. Kuhl was waiting near the stairs that led to AW’s apartment and gave her a picture phone. After she sent the pictures, Kuhl sent a text message asking for more. ML stopped sending pictures and hoped that Kuhl would go away.
During a June 27, 2011, interview, ML’s mother identified the photos as the same ones she had found on the cell phone that she had destroyed. ML said the images were the same ones she sent to Kuhl.