April 3, 2008 in City

No porn found on firefighter’s computers

By The Spokesman-Review
 

State officials acknowledged Wednesday that no child pornography was found on Spokane firefighter Todd Chism’s work and home computers.

“Our portion of the investigation is complete, and we are sending all our stuff to the Stevens County prosecutor,” said Robert Calkins, a spokesman for the Washington State Patrol. “We did not make a charging recommendation. We are just simply presenting all our information to the prosecutor.”

Chism was “extremely emotional” when he heard the news, said his attorney, Carl Oreskovich. “He’s been suffering through this for nine weeks. He was labeled – the emotional weight of that is something I don’t think can even be described.”

Chism was arrested Jan. 29 after the WSP’s Missing and Exploited Children Task Force searched his Nine Mile Falls home. A Spokane judge ruled the next day the evidence was “too slim” to hold Chism in jail.

According to the WSP, the investigation began last June when the agency received a tip about child pornography being downloaded to an account that had been established using Chism’s Bank of America credit card number and home address. But the account was under the name “Mr. Nicole Chism,” with a fake birthdate. Nicole is Chism’s wife. The couple had previously reported fraud four times on that account.

The WSP wouldn’t discuss its investigation into the allegations of child pornography on Wednesday because the case is in the hands of a Stevens County prosecutor, Calkins said.

But while no child pornography was found on the computers seized during the investigation, officers discovered drug paraphernalia and marijuana during the search of Chism’s home, according to court documents. Investigators won’t say who they believe the drug-related items belong to.

It will be up to the Stevens County prosecutor’s office to determine if charges are warranted, officials said.

Chism remains on paid administrative leave, said Spokane Assistant Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer. “We can’t take any steps until we get direction from the prosecutor’s office.”

Possession of less than an ounce of marijuana is considered a misdemeanor offense under state law.

Greg Borg, the Spokane firefighters union president, said a misdemeanor crime does not automatically result in a firefighter’s termination.

Meanwhile, Oreskovich said he continues to represent Chism.

“Now they have completed their investigation, and one of the things that has to be looked at is why an innocent man had his home searched,” Oreskovich said, “why there was a media release of allegations of possession of child pornography, and the damage that was done to him and his family.”


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