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Back behind bars

Pedophile’s phone has 1,000-plus child porn images


News Staff Writer

A local man, listed on the state and federal sex offender registries for the past decade, remained in jail under a $1 million bond this week after his recent arrest by state, federal and local officers who found evidence that the man was back to his old habits.
According to a press release from Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, 46-year-old Matthew Mason Dodge was taken into custody July 17 after ALEA personnel investigated a cyber tip that Dodge was again involved in pornography involving young children.
State Bureau of Investigation agents, officers of the ALEA SWAT team and U.S. Department of Homeland Security Cybercrimes Unit, along with investigators and deputies of the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office, arrested Dodge without incident at his McCullough Road home.
Dodge served a federal prison sentence for another crime against a child just three years ago. According to court documents, the local man was arrested by federal agents in 2007 and charged with three counts of transferring obscene materials to a minor. Those crimes occurred in December 2006.
The pedophile, who was 33 at the time, entered a guilty plea to one count in October 2007 and was sentenced to an 18-month prison sentence, with three years of supervised parole to follow. He reportedly served the entire sentence and was released from prison in 2009.
Court documents show that the federal charges that put Dodge on the registry stemmed from his transmittal by computer of live images of himself performing an obscene act. He thought his broadcast was being sent to a 13-year-old girl, but the recipient was actually a federal law enforcement officer posing as an inquisitive teen, according to the court papers.
Local authorities had no indications Dodge was involved in child pornography again during the decade he has been on the local registry.
“He’s been registered here since July 2009,” said Escambia County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Bruce Shue, the officer responsible for monitoring each of the 238 sex offenders who reside in the county’s rural areas. “He reported like he should and there was nothing to indicate he wasn’t conforming to SORNA (Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act) requirements.”
According to ALEA’s website, 99 other registered sex offenders live inside Atmore’s city limits, with about 100 scattered through the Flomaton, Brewton and East Brewton areas.
State police reported that when Dodge was arrested on July 17, his phone contained more than 1,000 images of nude or partially nude children ages 2-7 years. Many of the images also included a nude adult male.
He also allegedly had at least one electronically shared image of a nude adult male with a child between the ages of 2 and 4 years, and there was reportedly evidence that Dodge used a phone app to communicate instructions to at least one child on how to perform various sex acts.
He is charged with five counts of possession of child pornography and one count each of possession of child pornography with intent to distribute and electronic solicitation of a child.
An employee of the Escambia County Detention Center’s booking and release division reported Monday that Dodge has remained behind bars since his arrest. District Judge Eric Coale set his bond, and no bond reduction hearing was on the court’s calendar, the employee said.