Ex-youth counselor at O.C. church pleads not guilty to child porn charges

A Newport Beach man who served as a youth counselor at an Orange County church has pleaded not guilty to child pornography charges, federal officials said Monday.

Authorities arrested Todd Christian Hartman on Friday morning, two days after the 32-year-old, who worked with children at Vineyard Church of Anaheim, was indicted on one count of possession of child pornography and two counts of distributing child pornography.

The charges stem from alleged activities in the last two years, according to court records.

Federal officials said they notified the church about their suspicions after a February raid on Hartman's home, where investigators reported finding more than 400 child porn videos and 300 child porn photos that they believe Hartman downloaded or distributed online.

"Some of those videos featured children as young as 8 or 9," according to a statement from federal officials.

Officials said they suspect that Hartman used peer-to-peer file-sharing networks to collect and share pornography.

The church is cooperating with local and federal investigators, who are trying to determine whether Hartman committed any crimes involving children at the church, according to the statement.

"These allegations are particularly disturbing in light of the defendant's access to children," said Claude Arnold, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Los Angeles.

Hartman is being held without bail, Assistant U.S. Atty. Ivy Wang said.

He could face as many as 10 years in prison if convicted of the possession charge, and each of the distribution counts carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

jeremiah.dobruck@latimes.com

Twitter: @jeremiahdobruck

Dobruck writes for Times Community News.

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