Claremont man known for mentoring kids charged with child pornography

By MIKE DONOGHUE

Valley News Correspondent

Published: 12-16-2021 3:39 PM

BURLINGTON — A 34-year-old Claremont man known for his child mentoring efforts in the Twin States has been arrested on a felony charge of production of child sexual abuse material, aka child pornography, in Windsor County, according to federal authorities in Vermont.

Wayne Miller, formerly of Hartland, appeared briefly in U.S. District Court in Burlington by video from the Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield, Vt., on Friday afternoon. He was ordered held without bail.

A prosecutor wrote in court papers that the “criminal complaint establishes instances where Miller sexually assaulted a toddler-aged child he knew, and he filmed the abuse.”

If convicted on the charge, Miller faces a mandatory minimum of 15 years in prison.

Miller “is the founder and director of Living Proof Mentoring, a program that matches Black Mentors for Black youth throughout Vermont,” according to a 2020 Mentor Vermont social media post.

Vermont Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force found at least three photographs in an email account on Miller’s cellphone depicting sexual abuse involving a young child and the lower portion of a man’s body, according to a court affidavit.

Miller told investigators that he was the man in the photographs, Special Agent Scott Labor of Homeland Security Investigations wrote.

The charges stem from June 2020 when Miller was living on Depot Road in Hartland; he moved from Windsor County before a planned raid at his home this month, records show.

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Law enforcement eventually raided his apartment on Chestnut Street in Claremont on Wednesday.

During the raid, Miller told investigators they would find child sexual abuse material in his email account on his cellphone, court records show.

Vermont law enforcement is in the process of renaming child pornography as “child sexual abuse material” and referring to it by the initials — CSAM.

During the court hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Barbara Masterson asked that Miller be detained on the grounds he was both a significant danger to the community and a serious flight risk.

“He has an obvious sexual interest in children, and he has acted on it,” Masterson wrote in her motion seeking detention.

She said there also is concern for “Miller’s precarious mental health.” Miller “recently checked himself into the hospital because of his depression and suicidal ideation.” He was released from the hospital on Wednesday and lodged that evening at the Springfield prison.

His initial appearance in court “had to be delayed because he was on suicide watch at the facility. The government is gravely concerned that Miller will self-harm if released,” Masterson wrote.

Magistrate Judge Kevin Doyle agreed with detention, also citing the weight of the evidence and Miller’s prior criminal history, records show. Doyle set a probable cause hearing for Dec. 22.

The investigation began when Google sent a cybertip to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in November 2020 after it discovered a user had attempted to send the material by email to another account. NCMEC forwarded the cybertip to the Vermont Internet task force’s Commander Matt Raymond.

The Vermont task force obtained search warrants for the two Google accounts involved in the attempted transfer. Through that work, investigators uncovered additional images, some of which appeared to have been produced by Miller, and learned the defendant likely controlled both accounts, according to court records.

Mike Donoghue can be reached at vermontnewsfirst@gmail.com.

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