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Man charged with child porn pleads not guilty
A Vashon man charged with possession of child pornography pleaded not guilty in King County court on Monday.
Gregory Richard Garcia, a 46-year-old homeless man who is often seen around Vashon town, was arrested on May 16 after police determined an iPod containing child pornography that was found on the ground at a baseball field belonged to him.
The case has drawn the attention of the Seattle news media and prompted at least one Islander to take steps to prevent the man from coming onto his property.
According to court documents, the iPod was picked up at the Sunrise Ridge baseball fields near the Vashon food bank by a man who then called police and turned it in to the King County Sheriff’s Office.
Charging papers filed by the county late last month give graphic descriptions of the pictures and videos contained on the iPod, which show adult males forcing young girls to perform sexual acts and have intercourse.
A Vashon sheriff’s deputy assigned to the case suspected the iPod belonged to Garcia after recognizing him in some of the self-filmed videos on the device. Court documents do not say if the self-filmed videos were pornographic.
When questioned by authorities, Garcia said the iPod, as well as a laptop found in his storage unit that also contained child pornography, belonged to him, according to charging papers.
Shawn Hoffman, an Islander who owns the Vashon Market complex, said last week that he was surprised to find out about the incident in a Seattlepi.com article, which quoted court documents as saying Garcia had been seen “hanging out” at the Vashon Market parking lot where the Vashon Dance Academy is also located. Q13FOX broadcasted a report on Tuesday, June 5, from the Vashon Market parking lot.
Hoffman said he has contacted the sheriff’s office to find out how he can block Garcia from coming on his property. He has also asked the sheriff’s office to do added patrols at the complex and plans to take extra security measures such as organizing his own drive-throughs.
“We’re trying everything we can to assure the parents of the dancers that everything is being done that we can do,” he said.
Garcia never caused any problems at the parking lot, Hoffmann noted, and was never seen watching children.
“I would have noticed anyone loitering about and taken action,” he said. “He doesn’t just hang around our place. He kind of wanders the whole town.”
Hoffman said some of his tenants have nice things to say about Garcia and were surprised to learn of his charges.
“He is a nice guy and he helps people with their computer problems,” Hoffman said some of his tenants told him. “A smart guy and he kind of watches out for the town, actually. I think he’s reported vandalism and things like that.”
Still, Hoffman said, he’s taking all the precautions he can, saying “we don’t want to take the chance that it could escalate.”
“I’m definitely not going to let it go,” he said. “I just want to assure the children are safe, even though he might be innocent and we might not have any worries. I think it’s fair to be cautious when it comes to our children.”
A King County prosecutor requested Garcia be jailed on $100,000. The request was denied by a King County Superior Court judge. Garcia is scheduled to appear in court again on June 22 for a case-setting hearing.
Sharon Schoen, a dance academy volunteer, said a few parents of dancers had questions about Garcia’s presence at the shopping center. But everyone seems happy with Hoffman’s response, she said, and she personally is not concerned about Garcia.
“He always minded his own business,” she said. “As a homeless person goes, he seems to be a nice homeless person.”