Update: Former Blair AD pleads not guilty to charges

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A former Blair High School activities director pleaded not guilty to six counts of child pornography during a hearing at the Roman L. Hruska Federal Courthouse in Omaha Friday afternoon.

Daniel Hutsell, 41, was indicted by a grand jury on six counts related to child pornography in the U.S. District Court of Nebraska July 19.

Hutsell is charged with three counts of knowingly distributing videos of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct on March 19, Aug. 3 and Sept. 12–13 in 2021, and three counts of possession of child pornography.

If convicted, Hutsell faces up to 20 years imprisonment.

During the hearing, Hutsell was granted release from Douglas County Corrections on several conditions, including no access to the internet unless searching for employment with supervision from his parents, whom he resides with; no contact with minors under the age of 18 other than his children; and cannot travel outside of Douglas, Sarpy or Washington counties.

In a statement to Blair Community Schools families, Supt. Randy Gilson stated the district was aware of the charges made against Hutsell.

"...to our knowledge, no Blair Community Schools student was involved in Mr. Hutsell's alleged criminal activities," the statement reads. "However, we want to encourage and reiterate to all families that Blair Community Schools is a safe space for any student, parent or staff member to report any concerning information they may hear or see. We will always take these reports seriously to ensure the safety and well-being of our students."

An electronic monitoring device will be installed at Hutsell's parent's residence.

According to a report from KETV, with access to court documents, the Nebraska State Patrol began investigating Hutsell in November 2021 following the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children receiving "a tip of 19 uploaded files to Stelivo, a company that runs real-time chat websites."

NSP linked a user name which had uploaded files to Hutsell's IP address, which involved two separate photos of two children pictured in "lewd poses, and partially or completely naked," according to KETV.

A search warrant was executed on Nov. 30, where investigators interviewed Hutsell.

Hutsell admitted to trading pornography using the website freechatnow.com, but denied having involvement with "child sexual abuse material."

Authorities reportedly asked if Hutsell had seen the image of one of the children in one of the photos, and he said he had seen it but "though the girl appeared to be of age."

During the search, Hutsell reportedly told investigators he had hundreds of pornographic images on his laptop, which he used for trading purposes on freechatnow.com

NSP investigators also obtained a second search warrant in order to search Hutsell's laptop, phones, cloud, social media, email and other electronic devices.

Following the investigation in November, Hutsell was later found in his car parked in his garage with the engine running and was hospitalized, according to KETV.

In a statement provided to the Enterprise, Washington County Attorney Scott Vander Schaaf said it is common for NSP to investigate certain cybercrimes due to the fact that NSP has a task force "designated to investigate online criminal activity."

"The Nebraska State Patrol then provides that information to the U.S. Attorney's office for prosecution as these types of cybercrimes usually involve many individuals from various states around the country," Vander Schaaf wrote. "At the local level, we do not have jurisdiction over individuals outside Washington county, which is why we sometimes defer to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the prosecution of certain crimes."

Vander Schaaf added that for Hutsell's criminal investigation, the Washington County Attorney's Office had kept in contact with federal prosecutors, but no information was able to be made public "so as to not affect the federal investigation and prosecution negatively."

"We appreciate the continued hard work of the Nebraska State Patrol and the U.S. Attorney's Office investigating, apprehending and prosecuting cybercrimes," he wrote.

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