May trial for Atwood man accused of sexually exploiting minors

May trial for Atwood man accused of sexually exploiting minors

URBANA — An Atwood man accused of sexually exploiting minors in two counties and allegedly possessing pornographic photos of children has been ordered held in federal custody pending trial.

Dennis West, 43, had been arrested in December by Atwood police and charged in both Douglas and Piatt counties with allegations of sex abuse of minors and possession of child pornography.

The state charges were dimissed in both counties earlier this month following West's indictment by a federal grand jury March 6. He faces heavier penalties if convicted under federal law.

The six-count indictment charges West with sexual exploitation of a child and possession of child pornography.

Three of the sexual exploitation counts allege conduct that happened on different days in September and October 2018 with a child at his home in Atwood; two of the sexual exploitation counts allege conduct that happened in July 2017 and February 2018 at an unspecified location in Champaign County with a second child.

The child pornography count alleges that on Nov. 14, 2018, West had cellphones and other digital storage materials that contained images of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

The government's indictment asks that West forfeit any pornography or cameras, phones, computers or electronic equipment used in its production; and any property he obtained through money he might have made from allegedly producing the pornography.

West appeared in court in Urbana early last week before U.S. Magistrate Judge Eric Long, who ordered that he be held pending a trial tentatively scheduled for May 7 in Urbana.

West remains in the Macon County Jail in Decatur.

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