Child porn evidence in case against RPD officer may not be admissible

RICHMOND, Va. – A former Richmond Police officer jailed on child pornography charges was in federal court Monday.

Charles Church served on the force 12 years before he was indicted on two felony counts of sodomy of a juvenile, as well as a felony count having sexual intercourse of rape of a juvenile for an alleged incident in November 2015.

Investigators said Church sexually assaulted a juvenile female under the age of 13 on Nov. 2.

Then, Church was accused of receiving child pornography last October 11 through November 4. His state charges were nolle processed so that the federal case could proceed.

In August 2016, Church filed a motion to suppress all evidence obtained from his tablet and laptop. He claimed the search warrants were “invalid.”

Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Robert E. Payne ruled that one of the search warrants was indeed invalid and that all evidence of child porn gathered from the electronic devices had to be thrown out.

Monday, Judge Payne listened to oral arguments regarding another search warrant obtained after Mrs. Church signed a consent form allowing police to search their home and property.

Both sides argued about the “scope of consent” and whether or not that consent included the search for electronic devices related to child pornography charges.

CBS 6 legal analyst Todd Stone said the judge’s decision on whether or not that evidence can be used is crucial to the case.

“This is really significant because it’s very possible that this federal case could be shut down because a child pornography case necessarily depends on that electronic evidence of the images. And so if those images aren’t admissible in court, then you can’t prosecute the case,” said Stone.

Judge Payne said he will make a decision in 30 days.

The maximum punishment for the separate federal charge against Church is 20 years in prison.