Mahomet man indicted for sexual exploitation of a minor

Mahomet man indicted for sexual exploitation of a minor

URBANA — A Mahomet man arrested following an incident in the bathroom of a Champaign coffee shop faces federal charges of sexual exploitation of a minor and child pornography.

On Wednesday, a federal grand jury indicted Michael L. Denight, 57, who listed an address in Mahomet, for six counts of sexual exploitation of a minor and one count of possession of child pornography.

Prosecutors are also asking that Denight forfeit his computer, camera and other equipment.

If convicted, Denight faces between 10 and 30 years in prison for each of the counts of sexual exploitation of a minor and up to 10 years in prison for the child-pornography count.

According to the indictment, Denight allegedly produced pictures of a minor taking part in sexually explicit content in Mahomet between 2000 and 2005 and allegedly possessed child pornography on or about Feb. 16.

U.S. Magistrate David Bernthal ordered Denight held in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.

On Feb. 13, a woman was in the restroom of the Espresso Royale coffee shop at 602 E. Daniel St., C, when she saw what she thought was a video recording device.

She told an employee, and she and the employee both saw a man go toward the ladies' room and then quickly leave the building.

When the woman and employee went in the restroom, the device was gone, but personal items were left behind, including a cellphone, that led police to Denight's home in Mahomet.

According to an affidavit filed with the criminal complaint against Denight in U.S. District Court in Urbana, Denight admitted to a Champaign police detective that he tried to record videos from the ladies' restrooms at Espresso Royale on Feb. 11 and at Fat Sandwich Company, 502 E. John St., C, on Feb. 15.

He allowed police to take his computer and told them that on his flash drive they would find "dozens, if not hundreds more" images of girls he had surreptitiously recorded over the years.

Denight told police the pictures were of girls between the ages of 12 and 15 who were recorded nude or partially clothed in the bathroom of his home in Mahomet.

Denight told police he had recorded women in public restrooms, the bathroom of his own home, and dressing rooms at shopping establishments since 2000.

"My office defers prosecution to federal authorities at this time," Champaign County State's Attorney Julia Rietz said in a written statement. "While the affidavit supporting the federal criminal complaint also contained allegations of illegal activity related to adult victims, under Illinois law, potential available penalties provide for sentences of only one to three years in prison or probation. Therefore, I am confident that the appropriate venue for prosecution rests first with the federal court."

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