A Bay St. Louis man has been arrested in a child pornography investigation that has reportedly identified 325 pictures of 51 known child victims on his computers.
Peter Skladzien, a contract employee in information technology at NASA, was arrested Monday in Houston before he boarded a plane to Taiwan, a court document said.
His arrest came after Homeland Security Investigations received a tip about suspicious travel by Skladzien to Thailand, “a known sexual tourism destination,” an HSI agent’s affidavit said. Skladzien allegedly traveled to Thailand in April and used PayPal to watch webcam shows of children.
An HSI agent interviewed Skladzien in June, and Skladzien denied downloading sexually explicit pictures or videos of children, the affidavit said. Skladzien said he had traveled to Thailand to see his girlfriend, and had paid to watch women online through an adult webcam service.
He agreed to allow NASA’s Office of Inspector General to search his seven home computers, the agent said.
In August, 3,504 pictures and 11 videos were sent to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which keeps records of children who have been identified as victims of child pornography.
Within a month, the NCMEC identified more than 300 pictures of known images of child pornography, the agent said.
Skladzien’s computer files were dated from Dec. 7, 2011, through May 23, 2015.
An HSI agent interviewed him again in November, telling him child porn was on his computers. He admitted he liked to look at children in “sexy outfits” and “sexy clothes” and then admitted he had looked at pictures of nude children, the agent said.
The children were “in negligees, bathing suits and thongs, commonly referred to as child erotica,” the affidavit said.
Skladzien reportedly said he had viewed child erotica sites about 20 times in 2014 and 2015.
He said he did not look at the pictures for sexual arousal, but out of shock and curiosity, the agent said. He allegedly said the websites he viewed had aroused him “a little bit,” but he said he couldn’t allow himself to keep looking at the websites.
About 12,000 images were sent to the NCMEC as a result of searches Dec. 15 at his home and office, the agent said.
He was brought to Gulfport for an initial court appearance.