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Batavia man accused of accessing child porn at public library

Court documents state Robert Richmond was arrested in January on suspicion of possessing and knowingly accessing with intent to view child pornography on a computer. (WHAM photo)

Batavia, N.Y. (WHAM) - A Batavia man is facing federal child pornography charges after investigators say he was caught accessing material at a public library.

Court documents state Robert Richmond was arrested in January on suspicion of possessing and knowingly accessing with intent to view child pornography on a computer.

According to our news partners at The Batavian, Batavia Police contacted federal investigators in mid-July regarding Richmond's arrest for a report that he had been looking at child pornography at the Richmond Memorial Library in Batavia.

The library director called Batavia Police and reported him after a library employee spotted Richmond bringing up the images. The employee identified Richmond from his library card and a photo array.

After the incident, library employees immediately prevented anyone else from using the computer until police could arrive. Investigators seized the computer and analyzed it. The Forensic Examiner found 83 images of suspected child pornography as a result.

Court documents say Richmond was subsequently interviewed by police about the incident and admitted viewing child pornography at the library. He added that he had been doing so since 2009 and that he "is getting counseling for the issue."

Another library employee told investigators that Richmond "is known to look at adult pornography." The employee reportedly told police that, since 2014, he had confronted Richmond four to five times each year about looking at pornography while at the library.

In a separate incident, another patron at the library complained to staff members that Richmond was viewing child pornography. By the time the staff went to check the computer allegedly in use, Richmond had left.

13 WHAM spoke to the President of the libraries Board of Trustees Thursday.

Norm Argulsky said there are no filters on the library computers preventing people from accessing inappropriate sites. Argulsky said people found accessing adult pornography are given one warning before their computer privileges are revoked. Computers are accessed through a person's library card.

Argulsky declined an interview, directing 13 WHAM to the library director who said:

"Complaints about inappropriate content are rare at our library, but not unheard of. We have a policy that allows library staff to intervene, and out of the 150,000 library visits we see in a year, I would estimate we have to use it maybe 6 to 10 times. Child pornography, however, is far beyond "inappropriate," and is actually a crime that our library staff are trained to report to law enforcement. That's what happened here last January, and we're quite proud that our eyewitness testimony and the physical evidence we turned over to the police may be used in the prosecution of a horrible crime. We would rather be in the news for our award-winning library programs and the impact we make in our community, but when it comes to law enforcement, yes, we help with that, too."

The libraries board has discussed filters in the past, according to Argulsky, but it's not clear if this incident will result in any change in the libraries policy.

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