Man, 35, facing 17 counts of child porn

Charged with posting Internet photos taken of woman when she was 17

By FAITH HUFFMAN, News-Telegram Crime Reporter

Jan. 23, 2008 - A 35-year-old Sulphur Springs man was arrested Tuesday on 17 warrants charging him with the possession or promotion of child pornography.

Mikal Joseph "Wolf" Lawhorne remained in the Hopkins County jail Wednesday morning in lieu of $25,000 bond on each of the 17 charges. Lawhorne, who is on probation, also was charged with violating the terms of his probation, according to jail and arrest reports.

The warrants were issued after a woman told authorities that photographs taken when she was 17 had been posted on the Internet.

Sheriff's officers began working the case this weekend. The woman told Hopkins County Sheriff's Investigator Andy Chester on Sunday that she had discovered Lawhorne had had posted the pictures, taken when she was 17, on the Internet and shared them with others.

The woman, now 22-year-old, said the pictures were taken in May of 2003 by Lawhorne. Information in the case indicates she was affiliated with Lawhorne in some capacity at that time. Someone showed the woman the pictures recently, and she began contacting local authorities Saturday.

According to Texas law, a 17-year-old cannot legally give consent to someone to take nude photographs of them - they must be at least 18 to give consent. Anyone who takes such photos and shares them or exposes them to others is in violation of the law.

There were 17 pictures, HCSO Investigator Lewis Tatum explained Wednesday morning, and each photo is considered a separate offense.

Sheriff's officers spoke to witnesses and other people connected to the case in an attempt to verify the time of the allegations and the woman's age at the time the pictures were made.

After receiving what they believed to be substantial information supporting the charges, Tatum said, investigators presented the case and evidence, including the 17 pictures, to the district attorney's office. Justice of the Peace Yvonne King later issued the 17 warrants for Lawhorne's arrest for possession or promotion of child pornography.

Investigators Jace Anglin, Charles Humphries and Tatum served Lawhorne with the warrants at noon Tuesday at a residence on County Road 1103. Adult Probation Officer Joseph Phemings and Sgt. Chester also accompanied the investigators. Phemings determined Lawhorne violated the terms of his probation and charged him accordingly, according to reports.

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