By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
A registered sex offender, who has resided in Atmore since shortly after his release from prison 20 months ago, is back behind bars after he allegedly showed photographs of a pornographic nature to a local teenager.
Ernest Powell III, 40 (no local address provided), was arrested Monday, July 13, by Atmore Police Department detectives. He is charged with one count of transmitting obscene material to a child by computer.
“Basically, you have a convicted sex offender who just got out of prison,” said Atmore Police Chief Chuck Brooks. “We got a complaint that he showed some inappropriate pictures to a 15-year-old female.”
Brooks said APD investigators received a complaint from the teen’s parents that on July 9, “an adult male showed (the teen) sexually explicit photos from a cellular device while the child was working at a local business.”
An employee of the Escambia County Detention Center’s booking and release division reported Tuesday morning, July 14, that Powell — who was on probation for a 1998 Florida conviction on charges of burglary and sexual battery of a person over the age of 12 with a weapon — remained behind bars, without bond.
The police chief indicated that Powell probably shouldn’t expect a bond anytime soon.
“Apparently, his probation was moved to Alabama, so he faces additional charges of violation of probation,” Brooks said.
The police chief noted that the heinous nature of any type sex crime against a child takes precedent over most other investigations, especially in a small department like APD, where investigative resources are limited.
“Our investigators have been working their tails off,” said Brooks, who pointed out that the sex crime investigation was launched during the early stages of a probe into a shooting that is now being looked at as a homicide. “The parents called one of our investigators personally to report this, and he immediately got on it. When you have a sex offense against a child, everything else sort of comes to a halt.”