New Castle News

October 16, 2013

City man accused of child pornography

By Staff
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — A North Hill man is in the Lawrence County jail for alleged possession and distribution of child pornography.

Scott Alan Nicolls, 43, of 407 Blaine St. was arrested Friday by the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General, with help from the New Castle police.

He is charged with three felony counts of sexual abuse of children by distribution of child pornography, seven counts of sexual abuse of children by possession of child pornography, and one count of criminal use of a communication facility.

The alleged offenses occurred between July 29 and Aug. 9.

According to court documents filed by a state agent, peer to peer file sharing is a growing and common phenomenon on the Internet. Such file sharing programs allow groups of computers using the same file sharing network and protocols to transfer digital files from one computer to another while connected to a network.

To connect to a particular peer to peer file-sharing network, a user first must obtain a peer to peer client software program from the Internet.

According to the court document, on July 29, Aug. 5 and Aug. 9 the agent was conducting an online investigation to identify people possessing and sharing child pornography using a peer to peer network. He found a computer on the network that showed 65 files he believed to depict pornographic images of children under age 18. The agent was able to make a direct connection to the host computer. The agent viewed three completed downloaded files and all three appeared to depict children under 18 engaged in sexual acts and/or poses, in violation of the state Crimes Code Sexual Abuse of Children section, according to court documents.

The agent obtained a court order from the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, directing Comcast to release the subscriber’s name and other information.

Comcast provided Nicolls’ name and address as the account holder.

Attorney general’s agents and New Castle police executed a search warrant at Nicolls’ home Friday and seized four computers. A forensic examiner discovered child pornography media files on a laptop that had been in the closet of his bedroom, according to court paperwork. That device was found to have at least seven apparent child pornography videos.

A file-sharing device also had been installed on that computer and allegedly was used to disseminate child pornography, according to the agents.

Police also found several homemade videos that Nicolls allegedly filmed of young girls from the back as they walked through a store or stood in line with parents and friends. Agents allege that Nicolls’ voice and face are on the videos.

Nicolls was arraigned by District Judge Melissa A. Amodie, who set his bond at $75,000. His preliminary hearing is set for 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.