HAMILTON - A Victor man was sentenced last week in Gallatin County to five years in prison and 20 years on probation for uploading photos and videos of child pornography to the Internet.

Matthew Bailey, 20, pleaded guilty in July to felony child abuse in both Gallatin and Ravalli counties. Additional felony charges of abusing children and tampering with evidence were dismissed as part of a plea agreement.

Bailey is being held at the Ravalli County Detention Center on $20,000 bond and is scheduled to be sentenced in Ravalli County in October.

As part of his sentence in Gallatin County, Bailey will not be eligible for parole and will have to complete sex offender treatment. He was charged in two separate counties because his computer activity was traced to Victor, Hamilton and Bozeman, where he was enrolled at Montana State University last year.

According to court records, Missoula Police Detective Chris Shermer, acting as part of the Montana Internet Crimes Against Children task force, identified a computer that was uploading child pornography to the Gnutella website in January. The computer's IP address led to a Victor residence belonging to Kerri Bailey.

Shermer got a warrant to search the residence, where he seized computer equipment from one room, including two computers and a number of drives.

When he interviewed Kerri Bailey, she said her 19-year-old son Matthew had been in the room over Christmas break, but he had returned to MSU for the spring semester.

With Shermer's help, Bozeman Police Detective Mary Rangitsch got a search warrant and searched Bailey's dorm room on the MSU campus, finding a DVD that held 18 movie files containing images of child sexual abuse. They found similar images on a computer seized from Kerri Bailey's house in Victor. Some images showed adult men sexually abusing Asian boys under the age of 12.

Then in May, an employee of Ning, which hosts websites, reported that child pornography had been uploaded to the Ning site in February 2009. Shermer was able to trace the images to another Internet address belonging to Bresnan. On June 18, a Bresnan representative identified the associated Hamilton residence as belonging to Kerri Bailey before she moved to Victor.

Shermer arrested Matthew Bailey, who allegedly admitted to downloading and viewing child porn images. He also admitted to using the Ning network to distribute and receive such images.

According to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, Bailey's older sister Megan Bailey testified at his sentencing that her brother was a kind and compassionate man and that family members in Billings would support him with housing and employment when he is released.

State prosecutor Ole Olson told the court that there is no evidence Bailey ever touched or would touch a child similar to those portrayed on the videos. Olson also told the court that child pornography creates perhaps thousands of victims and perpetuates their shame and humiliation.

The judge said a psychosexual evaluation indicates Bailey is at low-risk to have a "hands-on" offense. He said the prison sentence imposes a significant loss of personal freedom.

Bailey himself addressed the court, apologizing to his family and telling the court that he knows what he did was wrong.

His sentencing in Ravalli County District Court is scheduled for Oct. 7.

Reporter David Erickson can be reached at 363-3300 or david.erickson@ravallirepublic.com.

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