First Responders

Ex-Montana Police Chief Used Facebook To Distribute Child Pornography

December 8, 2021Carl Prine
police chief child pornography

The former East Helena chief of police admitted allegations that he distributed child pornography in 2019 using social media, US Attorney Leif M. Johnson announced Dec. 7, 2021. East Helena Police Department photo.

William Daly Harrington was the police chief in East Helena, Montana, when he used Facebook to distribute child pornography, according to his plea agreement.

Harrington, 43, faces between five and 20 years in federal prison, plus a $250,000 fine, and up to a lifetime of supervised release. He’s slated for sentencing on April 23 before Chief US District Judge Brian M. Morris in Great Falls.

Morris accepted Harrington’s plea on Tuesday, Dec. 7. Harrington must register as a sex offender when he leaves the penitentiary, according to his plea deal.

The case against the ex-police chief began on Aug. 16, 2020, when the social media titan Facebook filed a report with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children about images of child pornography that allegedly had been sent by “Stella Carlson” to another person through its Messenger application.

One image appeared to be that of a girl, roughly 10 years of age, who was being penetrated by a man’s penis, according to Harrington’s federal charge sheet. A Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s deputy, who is a member of the Montana Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, traced the watermark on the photo to a studio overseas.

A search warrant to Facebook turned up 11 other graphic photos allegedly associated with “Stella Carlson,” a cutout identity for Harrington.

On Jan. 29, 2021, law enforcement officers serving a search warrant at Harrington’s home seized the police chief’s cell phone, which authorities later said contained pornographic images of children.

Harrington’s plea agreement calls on him to plead to only one count of the four-count indictment. He admits to distributing child pornography with his cell phone on Nov. 17, 2019.

His attorney did not respond to Coffee or Die Magazine messages seeking comment.

The case was investigated by the FBI’s Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force, Montana Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s Office, Bozeman Police Department, and Homeland Security Investigations.

Read Next: ‘Want To Experiment?’ Florida Cop’s Text Messages to Boy Trigger Federal Indictment

Carl Prine
Carl Prine

Carl Prine is a former senior editor at Coffee or Die Magazine. He has worked at Navy Times, The San Diego Union-Tribune, and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He served in the Marine Corps and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. His awards include the Joseph Galloway Award for Distinguished Reporting on the military, a first prize from Investigative Reporters & Editors, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.

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