Marco Antonio Hernandez-Maldonado

Marco Antonio Hernandez-Maldonado

An Iona man was arrested Thursday for possession of child pornography after a woman discovered the content on his phone.

According to the probable cause affidavit, the witness reported Marco Antonio Hernandez-Maldonado, 26, in October. Hernandez-Maldonado also is charged for destruction of evidence after he reportedly deleted his phone’s search history.

In an interview with a Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office detective, Hernandez-Maldonado claimed the image of child pornography came up unsolicited while searching online for car parts. He denied that he was searching for child pornography or that he had done so in the past.

Hernandez-Maldonado agreed to let the sheriff’s office examine his phone, but admitted to deleting his search history. The detective found Hernandez-Maldonado had made a recent search on how much trouble he could get into for searching for child pornography.

Using forensic tools, a detective was able to recover Hernandez-Maldonado’s search history and found he had been accessing child porn sites since 2018.

The probable cause affidavit lists more than a dozen searches Hernandez-Maldonado had done since 2018, which included the terms “teens,” “pedo” and “girls raped hard.”

The detectives found Hernandez-Maldonado accessed a child porn website multiple times that contained several videos of children being sexually assaulted.

The forensic review found Hernandez-Maldonado deleted his search history after learning his phone would be requested by law enforcement. He used his phone less in the following days but made several searches for information on the legal consequences of child pornography and whether it was possible for child porn to “pop up” on unsecured websites.

In messages to the witness, Hernandez-Maldonado continued to claim the child porn was an unsolicited pop-up. The witness, however, did not believe his claims, according to the affidavit.

“Child pornography is so serious, and it doesn’t just ‘pop up’ out of the blue,” the witness wrote in a message. “You really have to look for that sick stuff.”

The two also discussed concerns about a child who Hernandez-Maldonado had access to. The affidavit does not include evidence of an accusation that he committed child sexual abuse, and he denied sexually abusing a child when asked by a detective.

A detective interviewed Hernandez-Maldonado a second time. He said he did not know about the websites or searches found on his phone. He admitted, however, that he had seen pornographic content in the past depicting children as young as 12 years old.

A case was filed against Hernandez-Maldonado in December. Court records state the warrant for his arrest was served Thursday.

Willfully possessing or accessing child sexually exploitative material is punishable with up to 10 years in prison. Destruction, alteration or concealment of evidence is punishable with up to five years in prison.

Hernandez-Maldonado’s bond was set at $70,000. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Jan. 27 in Bonneville District Court.