Austin man pleads not guilty to seven counts of child pornography

Published 1:34 pm Thursday, April 4, 2024

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An Austin man made his first appearance in Mower County District Court on Thursday and faces seven felony counts of possessing pornographic material of minors under the age of 14.

Jonathan Joseph Norcross, 27, of Austin, pleaded not guilty to all charges against him during Wednesday’s appearance before Judge Natalie Martinez. A pre-trial hearing has been set for May 31, and a jury trial has been set for June 10.

According to the court complaint, the case goes clear back to May 25, 2022, when the Minnesota Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force received a tip from Instagram, which had informed the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that one of its users had uploaded five files of suspected pornographic works involving minors.

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An Austin Police Department detective was provided with the tip on Oct. 11, 2022, as well as the results of subpoenas issued by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to Google, Instagram, Charter, Cellco and Tracfone for information related to the user, later identified as Norcross through a supplied email address.

The detective reviewed the suspected files and determined that four of them contained explicit images of children, all under the age of 14.

After gaining a search warrant the day before, the detective and other law enforcement officers executed a search of the premises on Feb. 7, 2023, and confiscated several electronic devices including Norcross’s cellphone, laptop with two USB drives, Kodak memory card, a computer tower, a second smartphone, USB drive and Amazon tablet.

When questioned during the search, Norcross allegedly claimed that he was having issues with his internet and that “random devices” had shown up leading him to believe they were hacking attempts. 

He also allegedly admitted that the email address associated with the Instagram account was his, but he hadn’t used it in some time and didn’t know how to log in anymore.

Further questioning, as stated in the court documents,  led to Norcross allegedly admitting that he had some drawings or cartoons of child pornography and asked if that was illegal. Court documents recount that Norcross said, “I”m going to be honest with you, I like midgets and the only thing close to that is small humans, there’s not really many midget drawings.”

The detective asked if by “small humans” he meant kids and Norcross supposedly answered: “Yeah, there’s not really midget drawings.”

On Jan. 16, 2024, the detective reviewed the forensic examination report conducted on the items seized from the house by the BCA. Three more files of suspected child pornographic works were discovered on a cellphone.

It was also discovered that the phone’s user conducted a factory reset on the device and that it had been wiped locally on July 9, 2022.