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KEYT Employee Pleads Not Guilty to Child Porn Charges

Arrested After Purportedly Posting Lewd Image Online


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A KEYT employee accused of uploading child porn onto a public photo-sharing Web site pleaded not guilty during his arraignment last week to charges of possessing controlled child pornography as well as possessing ecstasy and LSD. Sean Sidney, 24, was arrested on December 1 after Santa Barbara Sheriff’s detectives, following up on information they received from Homeland Security, served a search warrant at his residence on the 3800 block of Sterrett Avenue and seized varies pieces of electronic equipment and drugs. He posted bail later the same day.

Sean Sidney
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SBSO

Sean Sidney

Sidney’s arrest, said multiple sources at KEYT, caused a bit of awkwardness for those working in the station’s news and production departments. According to the sources – who wished to remain anonymous for fear of losing their jobs – Sidney didn’t tell his coworkers of his arrest and showed up to work shortly before KEYT received the Sheriff’s Department press release about him. Station managers purportedly directed staff to not air the story, which they didn’t, and KEYT became the only major media outlet in the area to not report on Sidney’s arrest. News Director Jim Bunner would not comment on the matter at all, citing personnel privacy considerations.

At the time of his arrest, Sidney was working in the production department’s master control booth, queuing tapes and coordinating broadcasts. Those who worked beside him said he was “addicted to the Internet,” often copying and posting disturbing images to his blog and other sites “just to push the envelope.” He had also reportedly been reprimanded for accessing pornography at work in the past. Sidney has since been indefinitely suspended from KEYT.

Sidney found himself on Homeland Security’s radar, explained Sheriff’s Department spokesperson Drew Sugars, when he allegedly uploaded an image of child porn onto photobucket.com. The company reported it to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), and that agency in turn alerted the ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) division of Homeland Security. Within ICE, explained Sugars, is an initiative called Operation Predator that targets and tracks down sexual predators. Its representatives got in touch with Santa Barbara authorities who then took direct control of the case. Sugars said detectives found multiple images of child pornography on Sidney’s home computer during their search.

Sidney will return to court on March 3 for a preliminary hearing.

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