Lehigh Valley

Man charged in child porn case used messenger app to talk to kids

Police allegedly find at least 62 pictures, videos

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - A Bethlehem man accused of trading child pornography on-line allegedly lied about his age on an instant messaging app in conversations with underage boys and girls.

Bethlehem police charged Justin T. Wendling, of Catasauqua Road, with single felony counts of child pornography, disseminating images of children engaged in sex acts and criminal use of a communication device.

District Judge Wayne Maura arraigned the 27-year-old Wednesday afternoon. He was released on $50,000 unsecured bail ahead of a preliminary hearing scheduled for Nov. 29.

Bethlehem police began investigating Wendling in June after receiving a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children about a Tumblr user uploading six files of suspected child pornography, according to court records. The tip allegedly included Wendling’s email address, according to records.

Investigators served Google with a search warrant for Wendling’s gmail account, and Google confirmed he was the subscriber and provided a home telephone number. In September, authorities served a search warrant on Wendling’s apartment, seizing a cell phone, an HP laptop and a PlayStation 4.

Wendling allegedly admitted to police during an interview that he was curious about child pornography and that investigators would likely find child porn on his phone and computer. He also allegedly admitted to receiving child pornography from someone using the Kik messenger app, according to police.

Authorities allege that a search of his phone and laptop turned up at least 31 images and 31 videos of child pornography, involving boys and girls ranging from toddlers to teenagers. Police said Wendling also searched the Google Play store for phrases such as “pedophile” and "pedometer.”

Along with using the Kik messenger app to allegedly trade child porn, police said Wendling also tried to chat with underage boys and girls. He admits in one conversation to lying about his age, typing to the other user, “I’m 27 :( sorry I lied.”

Court records show he told the other user that people thought he was a pedophile. When asked if he was, Wendling responded, “It’s 50/50,” according to court records.

“What does that mean? You either like kids or you dont, (sic)” responded the other user.

“Ok sorry I like kids,” Wendling responded, according to court records.


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