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Cybertip leads to child porn charges against Wausau man

in Breaking News/Sirens

By Shereen Siewert

WAUSAU — A 60-year-old Wausau man is accused of accessing hundreds of images “consistent with the sexual exploitation of children,” thanks to a cybertip from a Microsoft-owned search engine.

Thomas Debonville, who has no prior criminal history in Wisconsin, faces two felony charges of possessing child pornography. The charges, filed May 31 in Marathon County Circuit Court, carry a combined maximum penalty of 50 years in the Wisconsin Prison System and $200,000 in fines.

Local police on April 25 received a cybertip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children regarding an upload of suspected child pornography that happened in February. The tip, submitted by Microsoft-owned Bing, was first sent to the NCMEC and was traced back to a Wausau internet address owned by Debonville, court documents state.

That report was enough to persuade a judge to issue a search warrant for computers and other devices owned by Debonville.

With a warrant in hand, police on May 30 went to Debonville’s home and searched his computer. There, according to court records, they discovered thousands of searches resulting in hundreds of sexually explicit images depicting girls age approximately 10-14 years old.

Debonville allegedly admitted viewing the images and said he had been viewing child pornography for about a year, police said.

Advocates say people who possess child pornography create a market for the sexual exploitation of children, which typically leads to long-term harm. Children who are victimized often need years of therapy to recover from the impact of the crimes committed against them. Circulating the documentation of their abuse can mean children are victimized over and over again while people around the world use the photos and videos for their own sexual gratification, according to the NCMEC.

Circuit Judge Greg Huber ordered a $5,000 cash bond for Debonville, whose name does not appear in online inmate reports. A mugshot was not available as of Wednesday afternoon.

A preliminary hearing is set for July 11.

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