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Officials still examining Marine Drill Instructor’s ‘online activity’ in child porn sting

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sgt-keith-knightInvestigators aren’t confident they know everything about the “online activity” of Sgt. Keith Knight, a Recruit Depot Parris Island drill instructor arrested in November and later charged with child sex crimes in Texas.

“It’s early on in the process,” Montgomery County (Texas) Assistant District Attorney Adam McLane said Thursday. “And I’m not 100 percent sure we know the full extent of all his online activity yet.”

McLane, assigned to the Houston-Metro Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force — the agency that helped facilitate the months-long online sting that nabbed Knight and 35 others — said the Marine was scheduled to appear for a pre-trial conference Thursday morning.

Knight, 26, whom Parris Island officials say was a drill instructor with the depot’s Recruit Training Regiment at the time of his arrest, faces two second-degree felony counts of promotion of child pornography.

He is alleged to have initially sent a nude photo of an infant to an undercover officer via an internet instant messaging application. As the conversation developed over a few days, he allegedly “sent the investigator multiple photos and a video depicting young children performing sexual acts,” according to the Houston Chronicle.

And he allegedly showed interest in traveling to Texas to watch the undercover officer — posing as a 28-year-old woman — “perform sexual acts with a 5-year-old girl.”

“It’s a serious case,” McLane said. “And we think every case that involves, or potentially involves, a child is serious.”

No trial date has been set, he said.

Right now, he said, the case is in the pre-trial stages: prosectors and defense attorneys meet to discuss evidence — documents, witness lists and forensics reports, for example — and negotiate potential plea bargains.

“We’re not closed off to the idea of settling this case with a plea,” McLane said. “But we wouldn’t settle it for anything less than it’s worth.”

When asked what it’s worth, McLane said, “I can’t tell you that.”

“At this point, that part is — and should be — between us and Mr. Knight,” he said.

McLane said he is confident in his case against Knight.

“I wouldn’t be able to discuss the evidence,” he said, “but we’re very comfortable with the strength of our case.”

Last month, Knight’s defense attorney, E. Tay Bond, told the Houston Chronicle that “his client is not charged with producing any child pornography, and even more importantly, that Knight and any alleged victim in the case were not from anywhere near Montgomery County.”

“Montgomery County is dedicating substantial resources to prosecute these claims,” Bond told that newspaper. “The only actual tie to Montgomery County is it was sent to an internet address that originated in Montgomery County. There was no actual defendant in Montgomery County, and there was no alleged child victim in Montgomery County. There is no evidence that the alleged minor portrayed in the child pornography was even in Texas, much less Montgomery County.”

Mary Nan Huffman, chief prosecutor with the Houston-Metro Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, told The Island Packet and Beaufort Gazette last month that the online sting was intended to be focused on Montgomery County, but, as is sometimes the case, people from other places get caught up in the process.

“He sent child pornography to one of our undercover officers,” she said, adding that his alleged desire to come to Texas to participate in illegal sex acts heightened her agency’s interest.

This story will be updated.

Wade Livingston: 843-706-8153, @WadeGLivingston

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(c)2017 The Island Packet (Hilton Head, S.C.) — www.islandpacket.com

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