Two indicted for unrelated cases of possessing sexually explicit images

Wed, 06/05/2019 - 1:15pm

BELFAST — Two Waldo County residents were indicted for possession of sexually explicit material in unrelated cases by a Waldo County Superior Court Grand Jury May 22.

Scott J. Tedesco was charged in April after he was found to allegedly have knowingly transported, exhibited, purchased, possessed or accessed with intent to view some form of sexually explicit material involving a child who had yet to attain the age of 12.

Tedesco is being represented by Attorney Jeremy Pratt, based in Camden. Tedesco’s next scheduled court date is June 11.

The second unrelated indictment for possession of sexually explicit material is against James M. Helmes, 45, of Northport (formerly of Texas), who was also charged in April after law enforcement officials from Texas worked with officials from Maine to locate him.

Helms, who reportedly left Texas for Maine after his alleged crimes came to light, was initially arrested on a fugitive from justice charge. Evidence gathered at the home Helms’ was staying at during his arrest led Maine authorities to charge him with possession of sexually explicit material.

The minor involved in the material allegedly possessed by Helms that led to him to be charged in Maine had yet to reach the age of 12, according to court documents.

In a narrative report filed by Maine State Police Computer Crimes Unit Detective Jason Bosco, additional details of the investigation into Helms were presented.

According to the document, videos of Helms having sex with a 17-year-old Texas relative were found on his cellphone in March 2018, and the crime was later reported to law enforcement personnel who obtained a search warrant for the phone. The videos reported to law enforcement were located on the phone by detectives, who were then able to identify and interview the victim.

The victim reportedly stated that Helms had been sexually abusing them for several years, dating back to when they were in primary school. The victim also reportedly told Texas law enforcement that Helms had told them he’d uploaded nude pictures and video to the internet, which had been ‘liked’ by several other people. He reportedly threatened the victim if they told anyone that he would release all the images and videos he had of them.  

According to the report, the victim also stated they knew of others who had been photographed by Helms in various states of undress, though they were unsure of how he acquired them, according to the report.

When the videos were discovered, Helms allegedly left Texas, leading to the involvement of the U.S. Marshalls Service to assist in locating Helm, who they said may be living in Northport. 

Further investigation, including surveillance undertaken by the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency, provided additional evidence that the man living at the Northport residence was Helms, though he was now identifying himself as Michael Helms.

According to the report, MDEA Special Agent Walter Corey reached out to Helms.

Given that Helms had an extraditable arrest warrant out of Texas for the sex crimes he allegedly committed there, Texas Ranger Jason Shae flew to Maine on March 30, in the hope that Helms would cooperate in an interview.

On March 31, after a search warrant to search the suspected residence to with the specific authority to look for and apprehend James Michael Helms was obtained, members of the MSP-CCU and Texas Ranger Shae traveled to the residence, where Helms answered the door and identified himself as Michael Helms.

Once inside the residence Ranger Shae advised Helms that while he was not under arrest, Shae had been sent to discuss an ongoing investigation in Belfast. Helms reportedly agreed to talk and during the course of conversation allegedly admitted to having an inappropriate sexual relationship with the victim and to recording the sexual acts on his phone.

Helms reportedly stated that he did not currently have a cell phone or Facebook account, though he reportedly quickly admitted neither were true. Helms admitted to having a cell phone and using a laptop, but stated they were at a friend’s home in Rockport; authorities knew this was also false given that Helms said he hadn’t left the house in days and yet someone had accessed his Facebook account just the day before.

Helms declined when asked if they could search the home for a cell phone or computer, saying that he would have to check with the homeowners and he was unable to call them because the phone was in a locked office. When Helms asked Ranger Shae and SA Corey to leave the residence he was placed under arrest on the warrant out of Texas.

After being placed under arrest, Helms, who was reportedly wearing a T-Shirt and sweatpants, asked if he could change his clothes, with SA Corey advising Helms that while he could not go get clothes, Corey would go get them for him if he wished.

Helms wanted the clothes and when SA Corey went to his bedroom to find them he found one smartphone with a broken screen in a dresser drawer Helms’ had told SA Corey to go into, and two smartphones on his bed next to his pillow. After returning with the clothes SA Corey asked Helms about the phones, and he reportedly said all three phones were broken. Helm also said that although he left Texas with a laptop, he sold it on Craigslist when he arrived.

It was at this point SA Corey “seized the residence and explained the process of a search warrant,” according to the report.

A second search warrant was obtained the same day authorizing Maine State Police to search the residence for electronic storage devices, including cell phones.

Three cell phones were seized from the residence pursuant to the search warrant, and early forensic analysis identified sexually explicit images and videos that were consistent with the alleged Texas crimes, police said.

A press release was issued about Helms arrest on April 1, and Detective Bosco received a call the same day from a woman in Bangor who reportedly met Helms on a dating app. The woman stated she and Helms dated for roughly one month in November and that during that time he brought a laptop to her house and left it there. Helms never returned or requested the laptop and she never used it or turned it on while it was there.

A detective with the Bangor Police Department met with the woman at her residence and retrieved the computer, which was logged into evidence. A forensic analysis of Helms’ seized devices was completed April 22 by Analyst Victoria Brennan, who reportedly found sexually explicit images consistent with those reportedly taken in Texas. Brennan also discovered several images of teenage girls who could also be potential victims in regard to the Texas investigation.

Forensic Analyst Brennan also found a photo collage of four sexually explicit images, with two of the images showing victims under age 12. According to the report, the two images are “known child pornographic images that have been identified in other sexual exploitation investigations.”

The investigation led to Helms being charged with possession of sexually explicit material in Maine, in addition to his charges from Texas.

Helms was released on $25,000 secured cash bail and will be supervised by Maine Pretrial Services. His is on bail conditions that include staying away from anyone under the age of 18, including the Texas victim. He is also forbidden from possessing electronic devices capable of internet access, and from access the internet.

Helms, who is being represented by Lisa W.D. Whittier, an attorney based out of Augusta, is next expected to appear in court June 11.


Erica Thoms can be reached at news@penbaypilot.com