Since July 8, three men have been arrested by local police or otherwise indicted on child pornography charges in Athens County Common Pleas Court, and one man has pleaded guilty to child porn charges.

Cody L. Prater, 21, of Reynoldsburg, was sentenced on July 23 to four years in prison by Athens County Judge Patrick Lang on seven second-degree felony counts of pandering sexually oriented material involving a minor.

Meanwhile, County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn said in a news release issued Monday that John C. Shaw, 27, of Malta (in Morgan County), was arrested over the weekend on four second-degree felonies of pandering sexually oriented material involving a minor.

Blackburn said his office began investigating Shaw after a continuing investigation into two other men who were indicted earlier this month on similar charges.

Specifically, Richard L. Adams, 74, of Nelsonville, was indicted on 31 second-degree felony counts of pandering sexually oriented material involving a minor and one count of pandering obscenity (also a second-degree felony) on July 8. Meanwhile, Joshua C. Copeland, 37, of Guysville was indicted on July 18 on seven second-degree felony counts of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material or performance; three second-degree felony counts of pandering sexually oriented material involving a minor; and one third-degree felony count of having weapons under disability.

The indictment of Copeland and the arrest of Shaw came after the Prosecutor’s Office conducted a search of Adams’ cellphone and other records after executing a search warrant on Adams’ home. 

“Chief Investigator Jay Barrett and other members of the Athens County Prosecutor’s office worked throughout the weekend with Morgan County and Athens County Sheriff’s Offices to gather additional information and conduct additional search warrants at Shaw’s address as well as additional search warrants at Adams’ residence,” Blackburn said in the release. “Officers located additional items at Adams’ residence, which will be sent out for analysis.”

Blackburn said the investigation will continue, and additional charges may be filed.

The Prosecutor’s Office release on Prater doesn’t mention any connection to Adams, Copeland or Shaw. Blackburn in that release said that the case was referred to his office by the FBI’s violent crimes task force after it was discovered that Prater had been storing files of child pornography in a Dropbox account.

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