Hed: Updated: Man arrested for child porn
Carly Gelsinger • Staff writer
Police raided a Gilroy home on the 700 block of Gettysburg Way near Tenth Street at 7 a.m. on Tuesday and allegedly found a stash of pornographic images of children on several computers in the home.
Michael Spencer, 42, was arrested on suspicion of child pornography possession and taken to Santa Clara County Jail.
Six San Jose Police officers from the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force whisked into the quiet, manicured Princevalle condominium complex in unmarked cars, assisted by five Gilroy Police officers, and entered the home on a search warrant obtained after a three-week online investigation into Spencer’s downloading and sharing habits, according to ICAC task force commander Greg Lombardo.
“One of our investigators found a person who was sharing child porn on the Internet, and we were able to track him to Gilroy using his IP address,” Lombardo said.
ICAC - a law enforcement conglomerate from across the Bay Area that focuses solely on child pornography crimes - took Spencer’s computers and devices and searched them in their RV-sized forensic van they brought to his home. They made the arrest after it was confirmed the images were on Spencer’s computers.
Spencer, who works for Granite Construction as an IT professional and is also a part-time real estate agent in Gilroy, has no criminal history, according to Lombardo.
A man who declined to give his name but who knows Spencer both personally and professionally, expressed shock over the arrest of his friend.
“Holy Moses,” he responded after a long pause when the Dispatch told him about the arrest. The man mulled over the news, oscillating between grief and unbelief.
He suggested that because Spencer is an IT guy who fixes computers remotely from his home computer, maybe someone else’s files were accidentally dumped on to his computers, causing an unjustified arrest.
Spencer who is the “nicest guy you’ll ever meet,” according to this source, married a woman with two pre-teen children about six months ago.
After stumbling over his words as he grasped to make sense of the arrest, he took a deep breath and said, “Oh, this is sad.”
Lombardo said that disbelief is a common reaction from friends and loved ones of a child porn criminal.
“You don’t know who these people are,” he said. “Most of the time they are regular guys with no criminal history.”
Lombardo is pretty confident that Spencer will be convicted for the charges, because even with the three to four weekly arrests ICAC executes all over the Bay Area, he couldn’t think of a time when his investigators arrested someone who wasn’t ultimately convicted.
An argument against harsh convictions for those who look at or share child pornography is “why does it matter what someone looks at in the privacy of their home?” But Lombardo said that those who fantasize sexually over children end up acting on those fantasies - so much so, he said, that about 85 percent of inmates convicted for child porn also admitted to molesting children.
In California, which stands in stark contrast to most other states, there is just one child pornography charge regardless of how many images the person possess, and how violent or barbaric the images are. Lombardo did not say how many images Spencer possessed on his computer, but did say that ICAC doesn’t waste their time on a few images.
“We only pick targets who are ‘good’ targets, so to speak,” Lombardo said.
The Silicon Valley ICAC, which services 11 counties, is one of five ICAC agencies in California and one of 15 in the nation.
On Tuesday morning, just a few hours after the arrest, residents of the 700 block of Gettysburg relaxed outside, washing their cars, playing with their pets and chatting with each other about their Fourth of July plans.
A man who said his first name was John but declined to give his last said he was “shocked” and “worried” about the arrest, as a father of two teenage boys.
“This makes me worry about my neighborhood,” he said. “Who knows how long this had been going on. I’m glad they caught him though.”