Traverse City Record-Eagle

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July 23, 2013

Man faces 20 child porn charges

BEULAH — An Almira Township man faces 20 felony charges in Benzie County court after authorities said they found child sexually abusive material on his smartphone.

Shawn Gatzke, 31, was arraigned in 85th District Court on 15 counts of possession of child sexually abusive material, one count of child sexually abusive activity, one count of distributing or promoting child sexually abusive material, two separate counts of use of a computer to commit a crime and one count of failure to comply with sexual offender registration.

Michigan State Police Detective Trooper Wesley Smith said the investigation began when Gatzke, a registered sex offender, failed to tell probation officers he used a smartphone to access a social networking site. The violation of the sex offender registry led authorities to perform a warrant search on Gatzke's phone, in which both child sexually abusive material and correspondence with a woman in Manila in the Philippines were found.

"The correspondence showed he would send funds in exchange for her producing child sexually abusive material," Smith said. "The transaction had occurred."

Smith said the investigation is ongoing, but there is no evidence Gatzke used another digital device to access the material or correspond with potential offenders elsewhere in Michigan or the United States. He said Gatzke was arrested and arraigned July 19 within a week of the investigation's start.

"We felt since he was actively engaging in production of child sexually abusive material we wanted him to get off the street as soon as possible," he said.

Prosecutor Sara Swanson said Gatzke's maximum sentence if convicted could be increased to 40 years from a habitual offender charge — he pleaded guilty in 2012 to possession and distribution of child sexually abusive material and served about 6 months in jail.

Swanson said a preliminary examination is scheduled for Aug. 1. Gatzke is lodged in Benzie County jail on a $1 million bond.

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