Highland man charged in international child porn distribution case

Cole Sidney Peterson, 23, of Highland, was charged
Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, with 10 counts of sexual exploitation of a
minor, a second-degree felony.

(Utah County Jail)

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HIGHLAND — A Highland man was charged Thursday with being part of a group that distributes child pornography internationally using a popular messaging app.

Cole Sidney Peterson, 23, is charged in 4th District Court with 10 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, a second-degree felony.

The investigation by the attorney general's office began in September when it was reported that suspected child pornography was being uploaded to the KiK app.

"An investigation located that user and a subsequent search of the suspect's device revealed a number of private KiK chat groups dedicated to the exchange and distribution of child pornography," according to charging documents.

Within each group were a number of users from both inside and outside the United States. One account was linked back to Peterson, the charges state. Members of the Internet Crimes Against Children task force served a warrant on Peterson's account and reported finding child pornography. They then went to his house on Wednesday to interview and arrest him.

"Peterson belonged to a private chat group dedicated to the exchange and distribution of child pornography. This chat group required the sharing of child pornography as the price of admission to the group. This chat group contained international users as well as minors," the charges allege.

Prosecutors have requested Peterson be held in the Utah County Jail without bail.

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Pat Reavy is a longtime police and courts reporter. He joined the KSL.com team in 2021, after many years of reporting at the Deseret News and KSL NewsRadio before that.


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