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Google cybertip leads to major child porn discovery on Wausau man’s phone

in Sirens

By Shereen Siewert

WAUSAU — A cybertip from Google led police to discover more than 5,000 photos and videos of infants, toddlers and preteens being sexually assaulted, all of which were being stored on a Wausau man’s phone, according to court filings.

David Muench, 34, of Wausau faces up to 500 years in prison if he is convicted on all 20 counts of possessing child pornography. Charges were filed this week in Marathon County Circuit Court following a months-long investigation that began in January, after Google discovered six images of child pornography that were allegedly traced to Muench.

Google actively scans the images that pass through Gmail accounts to see if they match up with known child pornography victims. When known victims are discovered, they are given a unique digital fingerprint that can be identified through automated systems. When a match is detected, that information is passed to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, where officials then follow up with local police to chase down leads.

In Muench’s case, Google first reported the images Jan. 11. Investigators from the Wisconsin Department of Criminal Investigation used subpoenas to trace the images to Muench, who allegedly admitted looking at and having child pornography on his phone. A forensic search led investigators to the grim discovery.

Police nationwide are seeing a historic rise in the distribution of child pornography, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, which has led to increased efforts to identify suspects who collect and share such photos. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, images of child pornography should be considered crime scene photos that not only create a market for child sexual assault but cause lifelong harm to the children being victimized.

Muench, who was already on probation stemming from a March 2017 conviction for sixth-offense drunken driving, was ordered held on a $100,000 cash bond. Future court dates have not yet been set.

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