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Somerset man faces 10 child porn charges

Richard J. Caldwell

HUDSON — A Somerset man allegedly told investigators he'd saved "a lot" of child porn to his computer.

Authorities last week put a number to that estimate — about 10,000 files. That revelation came Friday, March 2, during the initial appearance for Richard J. Caldwell, who faces 10 counts of child porn possession.

Law enforcement officials in the courtroom said the number of files drew gasps from fellow jail inmates during the hearing, which was conducted through videoconferencing between the courtroom and a jail conference room.

St. Croix County Circuit Court Judge Michael Waterman set a $15,000 cash bond at the hearing and ordered Caldwell to surrender his passport upon his release. The bond amount represented a compromise between the $50,000 sought by prosecution and the signature bond requested by public defender John Kucinski.

"He's got more ties to this community than anyone in the courtroom," Kucinski said in defense of his argument that Caldwell's local connections made him a strong candidate to reappear for future hearings — and not abscond.

Waterman wasn't convinced.

"There's more to it than just that," the judge said, noting that all 10 of the charges carry a mandatory minimum prison sentence, which he called "a game changer."

Caldwell, 59, posted bond and was released later on Friday.

According to a criminal complaint:

Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) agents, acting on information from an investigation into internet crimes against children, went to Caldwell's house on March 1.

Caldwell agreed to speak with agents and admitted to possessing and sharing child porn.

He told agents that while he was aroused by the images and videos, he isn't attracted to children he sees in public and "never even thought of sexually abusing a child."

"Caldwell said he is not sure what draws him to want to view child pornography as he knows it is wrong and makes him sick to even think about it when he is not viewing it," the complaint states.

The complaint also notes Caldwell used a file-sharing program to access the child porn.

A pretrial hearing was set for March 16.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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