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Porn charges against Shelby man go federal

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Ronald C. Hornback is charged with having more than 700 computer images of children having sex.

By Lisa King

A Shelbyville man charged in April with four felony counts of possession child pornography now has been charged in federal court with six counts of having more than 700 illegal images on his home computer.

Ronald C. Hornback, 50, of 413 Knobview Drive, appeared in U.S. District Court in Lexington on Tuesday for a status hearing on five counts of receiving child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography, federal court officials said.

The Shelby County Commonwealth Attorney’s office dismissed its  charges of possession of matter portraying a sexual performance by a minor on Sept. 22 because the case had been picked up in federal court, said Melanie Carroll, assistant Shelby County Commonwealth Attorney.

She added that the case went to federal court for a couple of reasons.

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office almost always reviews cases of child pornography involving a computer, and in this case, they decided to take it,” she said.

Carroll added there is a criteria that federal court follows that involves the number of counts as well as the amount of pornographic material.

“They look at the volume of images involved,” she said.

In Hornback’s case, according to the criminal complaint portion of an arrest warrant filed in March, the Cyber Crimes’ branch of the Kentucky General’s Office identified more than 700 “suspected images” of child pornography on a computer at Hornback’s home under the user account of Craig Hornback.

After being indicted by a Shelby County Grand Jury in April, Hornback was placed on house arrest, under certain conditions, which permitted him to go out only to go to work at his job at M.D. Electric Company.

His computer was seized, and he was barred from using a computer and forbidden to engage in “injurious or vicious habits,” or from using illegal drugs or alcohol, and to avoid people of harmful or disreputable character.

When he was indicted in April, Shelley Johnson, deputy communications director for the Attorney General’s Office, said Hornback’s arrest and indictment was the result of a 5-month investigation by the unit, a member of the Internet Crimes Against Children Taskforce.

Johnson did not disclose the age of the juveniles involved in the photos Hornback had in his possession, but that as result of his arrest and the nature of the charges, he had been forbidden to have any contact with any children under the age of 16 years old.

Shelby County Commonwealth Attorney Laura Donnell at that time said that the children in the images are younger than 12 years old.

“They are clearly young children,” she said.

Carroll said the case was dismissed with prejudice in Shelby Circuit Court.

“That means that if something were to happen [with the federal case], we could bring the case back,” she said.

She added that when a case of this type is prosecuted at the federal level, penalties are often higher than when prosecuted in a local court.

Hornback’s charges are Class D felonies, which are punishable by 1 to 5 years in prison each.

His attorney, Nathan Riggs of Shelbyville, was unavailable for comment Tuesday.

It is not known if Hornback is incarcerated, but he was escorted to his hearing Tuesday by federal marshals, court officials said.

His pretrial conference and jury trial, set for Nov. 16 and 30, respectively, will be held at U.S. District Court in Lexington.