Columbia Falls man faces trio of child-pornography charges

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A Columbia Falls man has pleaded not guilty to three charges of felony sexual abuse of children after allegedly downloading child pornography.

Travis Hinther, 38, entered the pleas July 18 in Flathead District Court.

According to a court document, in November 2012 a Madison County deputy contacted the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office after identifying a computer with a shared folder containing files identified as child pornography.

The computer was traced to Hinther’s address in Columbia Falls.

Several months later, Hinther’s home was searched. At that time, Hinther allegedly admitted that he had been downloading child pornography for many years, that he knew it was wrong and that he had repeatedly tried to stop.

Hinther allegedly described some of the videos he had downloaded as adult men having intercourse with children.

His computers were seized and found to contain more than 800 images and 16 videos of child pornography, some of which included children who appeared to be under age 12.

While two of the charges carry a possible sentence of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000, one of the charges specifies that the images were of children younger than 12 and Hinther was over 18. That charge carries a possible sentence of 100 years and a fine of up to $50,000.

In addition, the weightier charge also mandates that Hinther would not be eligible for parole for the first 25 years of his sentence for that charge, if he is convicted.

That means that if Hinther is convicted of all three charges, he faces a total of up to 120 years in prison and a fine of up to $70,000.

He is currently incarcerated in the Flathead County Detention Center, where his bond originally was set at $50,000. During a bond hearing the same day Hinther entered his plea, District Judge Robert Allison agreed to reduce that bond to $25,000.

His next hearing is scheduled Aug. 28.

Reporter Jesse Davis may be reached at 758-4441 or by email at jdavis@dailyinterlake.com.

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