Coach’s 201 child porn charges dismissed

Trial postponed on computer sex crime, enticement charges
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More than 200 counts of child porn possession filed against a traveling basketball coach accused of arranging a sexual rendezvous with a child in Shawano were thrown out of court this week.

Nicholas R. Bennett, 24, of Portland, Oregon, still faces felony counts of using a computer to facilitate a sex crime and attempted child enticement.

A jury trial that had been scheduled for Thursday has been postponed until April 27.

Bennett was arrested in October 2015 after arriving for an expected meeting with a 13-year-old boy.

After his arrest, authorities continued to investigate Bennett and executed search warrants to obtain electronic devices he had with him when he came to Shawano earlier that month for a basketball camp at Sacred Heart Catholic School.

According to authorities, the devices located in a duffel bag and backpack in a motel room at the Super 8 stored thousands of videos and images of child pornography.

Defense attorney George Pappas questioned whether detectives had the authority to conduct the forensic analysis of the laptop and other items, arguing it was outside the scope of the original search warrant, which was limited to securing possible evidence for the computer sex crime charge.

Shawano County investigators did obtain a second search warrant after finding the suspected child pornography.

Shawano County Circuit Court Judge James Habeck issued an order Tuesday dismissing 201 counts of possession of child pornography.

A hearing was held on the remaining charges Wednesday at which Pappas requested more time to research issues surrounding the charges.

Bennett was a basketball coach with Pro Shot Shooting Systems, which offers basketball camps and clinics in various venues across the U.S.

According to the criminal complaint, Bennett struck up an acquaintance with a 13-year-old boy during the Shawano camp, asked for the boy’s cellphone number and began texting him the next day.

The texts came to the attention of the boy’s mother, who contacted the Shawano County Sheriff’s Department. She told detectives the text messages were at first supportive of the boy’s athletic talent but gradually seemed suggestive.

Sheriff’s detectives took over the electronic communications with Bennett. As the conversations between Bennett and detectives continued, the texts became more suggestive and eventually sexually explicit, according to the complaint.

Bennett eventually suggested a meeting and was taken into custody when he arrived. He was ordered held on a $100,000 cash bond.

Bennett could face a maximum 40 years in prison and $100,000 fine if found guilty of using a computer to facilitate a child sex crime, and 25 years and a $100,000 fine if convicted of attempted child enticement.