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Cox faces 10 charges in child porn case
A felony complaint was filed Thursday in Yuma Justice Court against a Yuma High School teacher who was allegedly found in possession of pornographic images and videos of children on his computer after a search warrant was served at his home.
The complaint charges Michael Aaron Cox, 37, with 10 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor. He was arraigned before Yuma Justice of the Peace Gregory S. Stewart, who raised Stewart's bond from $100,000 to $750,000.
“There is a statutory definition and description, specifically what is alleged with respect to these images. I'm going to allow your counselor to provide those details to you in specific so you would have those,” Stewart said. “I do believe the bond set at this point in the amount of $750,000 is sufficient and significant given the information that is available to the court at this point. There may be additional details that become available at a later date and time. That is this court's determination based upon all the information and facts I have gathered at this time.”
Before the bond was reset, prosecutor Karolyn Kaczorowski asked to address the court about three separate concerns the Yuma County Attorney's Office had about the low bond and why a higher one was being requested.
Kaczorowski said the investigation into the case was still ongoing and that Cox's release could interfere with it, and that he has expressed suicidal thoughts, which could prevent him from attending court on a regular basis.
“We would like to keep him in custody for his own protection,” Kaczorowski said.
The third concern Kaczorowski expressed was that since some of the offenses occurred within the city of Tucson, officials there could also file a complaint against Cox and arrest him if he were to be bonded out, which would take him out of Yuma County's jurisdiction.
Attorney Jim Tilson, who is representing Cox, argued saying that he is a “long-time, nearly lifetime” resident of Yuma County with very strong ties to the community. As to the concerns over Cox's mental state, Tilson suggested pre-trial service perform an evaluation and make a determination.
“(Cox) has no family that is local, he is not married, he has no children, and some of his property has been seized in the investigation,” Kaczorowski replied. “His employment is tenuous at best at this point in time given the nature of the offenses. Therefore his ties to the community are limited.”
Cox's next court date, a preliminary hearing, has been set for 4 p.m. Aug. 17.
Cox was arrested by members of the Arizona Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (AZ ICAC) Tuesday afternoon after a monthlong Internet investigation. He allegedly was found in possession of pornographic images of children on his computer after a search warrant was served at his home.
YPD detectives assisted AZ ICAC with the execution of the warrant at Cox's home in the 2900 block of South Palo Verde Lane and seized several electronic media devices. Court records indicated the alleged images and videos were found on his computer hard drives and external storage devices.
Court records also show that the videos and pictures Cox allegedly had depicted children ranging in age from toddlers to age 15. In addition to reportedly admitting to being attracted to children, Cox alegedly also told police during his questioning that he had been involved in searching for child pornography through the Internet for many years.
The case remains under investigation. YPD encourages anyone with information or questions about this case to log on to www.AZICAC.org or contact the YPD Investigations Bureau at (928) 373-4670 or 78-Crime to remain anonymous.
James Gilbert can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6854. Find him on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/YSJamesGilbert or on Twitter @YSJamesGilbert.