Child porn case moves to federal court

A Gray man, who was to go to trial this month in federal court for allegedly possessing child pornography, is facing an additional charge of attempting to entice or coerce a minor to engage in sexually-explicit conduct for the purpose of producing child pornography.

Forty-seven-year-old Jerry Luke was scheduled to go to trial yesterday. However, that was continued, and on Aug. 6 a superseding indictment was returned.

Luke was initially indicted in Laurel County in July 2013 on 47 counts of possession of child pornography following an investigation by Knox County Sheriff’s Deputy Claude Hudson, Jr.

The investigation began on Jan. 13, 2013, leading to Luke’s arrest in May on charges of unlawful transaction with a minor and custodial interference.

As part of the investigation, Hudson stated that officers obtained a search warrant for Luke’s residence, during which they seized various computer equipment, such as zip drives and external hard drives.

A search warrant for the contents of the equipment was obtained and the equipment was sent to the Kentucky State Police Crime Lab in Frankfort for analysis.

Officials at the crime lab reported finding 39 images of child pornography and eight videos depicting child pornography on one of the zip drives that were seized.

Luke was to go to trial in Knox County in March. However, at his final pretrial hearing, prosecutors made the motion to dismiss the case, noting it had been taken up by the F.B.I. and would be prosecuted in federal court.

Knox County Commonwealth’s Attorney Jackie Steele explained that this is not uncommon concerning cases involving the downloading of child pornography from the Internet.

“At some juncture, the feds look at the case and decide if they want to adopt it,” Steele said.

On Feb. 25, a federal indictment was returned alleging that Luke possessed electronic media, which contained visual depictions of a minor under the age of 12 engaging in sexually explicit conduct. The indictment alleges the depictions had been shipped and transported via interstate and foreign commerce.

If found guilty, Luke faces up to 20 years in prison on the possession charge and 15 to 30 years on the charge of attempting to entice or coerce a minor to engage in sexually-explicit conduct.

In addition, U.S. attorneys are seeking the forfeiture of any property used to commit or to promote the offenses, or any property purchased from the gross profits or other proceeds obtained from the offenses, including a variety of computer equipment.

Luke is scheduled to go to trial Oct. 20.

He is being held in the Laurel County Detention Center.