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updated: 4/29/2014 1:53 PM

Former state Rep. Farnham charged with possessing child porn

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  • Keith Farnham

      Keith Farnham

  • Illinois secretary of state police officers help secure former state Rep. Keith Farnham's Springfield office in March.

      Illinois secretary of state police officers help secure former state Rep. Keith Farnham's Springfield office in March.

 
 

Former state Rep. Keith Farnham was charged Monday with possessing child pornography in a federal complaint that claims the Democrat traded lurid content online from his legislative office in Elgin.

Farnham, 66, is accused of having two videos depicting child pornography on a state-owned computer that federal agents seized in March from his office.

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An affidavit claims Farnham used a Yahoo email address to chat about child pornography, get videos that show lurid acts performed on children and trade material with "dozens of individuals in which hundreds of images and videos of suspected child pornography were sent and received."

"(I) wish i had access to all the vids and pics ever made," a message from the address linked to Farnham says.

Farnham was not arrested and has been largely silent about the raid since resigning shortly afterward, citing health reasons. He's set to have a first court appearance Wednesday.

Reached on his cellphone shortly after the charges were made public Monday, Farnham said: "I don't know what you're talking about."

Asked about searches of his home and office, Farnham said he "can't comment" and referred questions to his attorney, Terry Ekl.

Ekl said it's "too early to tell" how Farnham will plead in the case. He said Farnham will surrender to federal authorities Wednesday and said it is unlikely his client will be in custody as the case plays out.

Monday's charges are supported by an affidavit from an agent with the Department of Homeland Security, the agency that initially raided Farnham's home and office in March.

The document shows the email address linked to Farnham being used for detailed discussions of performing sexual acts on children.

The affidavit spans a time of less than six months late last year and early this year when Farnham is accused of trading photos and videos with other Internet users.

Monday's charges in particular are related to two pornographic videos found on a computer in Farnham's office and linked to the email address he is accused of using, the affidavit says.

On March 13, agents with U.S. Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations executed a federal search warrant at Farnham's office and home in Elgin. Several computers and electronic storage devices were recovered that contained child pornography images, including the two charged videos, according to the complaint.

The office computer that contained the videos was labeled "Property of the state of Illinois: House of Representatives," according to federal authorities.

Farnham, a Democrat, resigned his Illinois House seat March 19 and claimed he made the move because of serious health issues.

His resignation allowed local Democratic leaders to replace him in Springfield with former Elgin City Council member Anna Moeller, who has begun serving the rest of Farnham's term.

She'll also likely run for election for a full term in November.

Farnham, a former commercial painter, was first elected in 2008 by defeating Republican incumbent Ruth Munson and won re-election over Munson again in 2010.

Across the suburbs, elected officials, both current and retired, who worked with Farnham over the years reacted to the charges.

"He's innocent until proven guilty. However, it is just about the most shocking thing I've learned about a colleague, should it be true," said state Sen. Michael Noland, an Elgin Democrat. "All of us will learn more in the weeks and months ahead."

Former Elgin Mayor Ed Schock and Farnham knew each other through their children. Schock's youngest daughter and Farnham's son both attended Larsen Middle School and Elgin High School, Schock said.

"The whole topic is disgusting to begin with as a father and educator for 35 years," he said. "And it's just shocking that someone you know or someone you think you know would be engaged in that. It's very depressing, really."

Carpentersville Village President Ed Ritter said Farnham is innocent until proven guilty.

"I only knew Keith through his professional life as a representative and in that life he's exemplary," Ritter said, adding that he has not read through the court documents. " ... But not knowing his private life, I can only hope that the allegations aren't true because if they prove to be true, that would be just devastating."

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