A Havre man faces from 100 years to life in prison after being charged with possessing lewd pictures of a 16-year-old girl.
Gary L. Peterson, born in 1967, is charged with felony sexual abuse of children, possessing and producing child pornography. If convicted on the production charge, he faces 100 years to life in prison.
Police said he had sophisticated photography equipment in the home he shared with his girlfriend and her daughter. The equipment enabled him to take pictures through small holes in the wall, under doors and around corners.
According to legal papers filed by Hill County Attorney Gina Dahl, an employee at District 4 Human Resources Development Council discovered nude images of the girl in a room at the HRDC building on 5th Avenue when he was looking for other computer equipment. He suspected the photos were of a daughter of Peterson’s live-in girlfriend.
He took the photos to HRDC Executive Director Karen Thomas, who called Havre police.
Peterson had been the director of the weatherization program at HRDC, but he had been dismissed by the time the photos came to light, Thomas told the Havre Daily News Monday.
Police said they interviewed Peterson and his stories on how he got the photos were inconsistent. He told officers he was unable to explain how the photos would have ended up at his workplace.
They interviewed the girlfriend, who said she knew nothing about the photos, but told officers that Peterson had an HRDC-owned laptop computer that he had never returned. The laptop was kept locked in his garage, she said.
She allowed officers to inspect the home, and officers discovered in a bathroom primarily used by the victim a poster with a small hole which was aligned with a small hole in the bathroom wall.
The girlfriend told police that about a month ago, “she confronted Gary about some strange things she had noticed.”
She said she had seen wires all over a room in the basement that Peterson had frequented.
She also had seen a four-part screen on the basement computer, which she suspected was used for surveillance cameras.
She also told officers that “Gary had ordered and recently pawned a boroscope, which is a flexible tube-type scope that is able to look through holes in the walls, under doors, and around corners, and is very small in size, making it difficult to detect.”
She said she had intercepted a camera from Amazon.com that Peterson had ordered.
When confronted, she said, Peterson told her that he had recorded some areas of the house and he was sorry and wouldn’t do it again.