Port St. Lucie police officer Michael Harding charged with child - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Port St. Lucie police officer Michael Harding charged with child porn

A Port St. Lucie police officer will remain in jail a day after he was arrested by the Department of Homeland Security on charges of child pornography.

An affidavit said Officer Michael Harding had child porn videos of preschool age to pre-teen boys/girls performing sex acts.

During a federal court hearing Wednesday morning in Fort Pierce, he was formally charged with sending and receiving child porn, which is a minimum of five years and maximum of 20 years in prison.  

According to the affidavit, Harding used a messenger app called Kik, which uses WiFi to send photos and videos.  Kik doesn't list your number, but it does monitor the device used and a list of IP addresses.

Investigators said the videos showed pre-teen girls performing oral sex on an adult man. Some videos involved pre-school age girls.

The affidavit also says when investigators searched Harding's home, a thumb drive was found in a bedroom closet that contained several videos of both young boys and girls performing sex acts. Some of the children were about 6 or 7 years old.

Harding told the judge he has less than $3,000 in his bank account. The judge declared him indigent and appointed him a public defender. He told a judge he is married and has three children.

A prosecutor said during the hearing that from July 23, 2015 to Sept. 22, 2015, Harding distributed child porn.

Harding did not receive bond, and the judge said he was a danger to the community. Another hearing will be held Sept. 30.

Records show Harding was awarded Officer of the Year in 2011 in Fort Pierce before he switched employment to work at the Port St. Lucie Police Department in 2012.

During a news conference Wednesday morning, Port St. Lucie Police Chief John Bolduc said Harding was placed on administrative leave without pay pending the outcome of the investigation.

Background on Harding, provided by Fort Pierce Police Department

  •  Resigned: 08/22/2012, not made in good standing because he failed to provide the requested “notice of resignation.” He submitted his letter of resignation on 08/10/2012 indicating his effective date of resignation would be 08/22/2012.
  • Reason for leaving: Accepted Port St. Lucie Police Department’s job offer
     
  • Hire Date: 10/24/2008
  • Assignments: Road Patrol, Traffic Unit, and Crisis Intervention Team
  • Annual Performance Evaluations:
  • Summary Overall rating for all annual evaluations was he “meets job requirements.” Ratings include Outstanding, Exceeds job requirements, Meets job requirements, Needs Improvement, and Unsatisfactory

Disciplinary Actions

  • 04/02/2012 – Counseling: Received counselling for not checking Power DMS on a regular basis. Power DMS, an in-house method used to keep employees updated on policy changes, memorandums, directives, and training. Employees are responsible for making sure to check postings on a regular basis and acknowledge receipt by electronic signature.
  • 08/03/2012 – Counseling: Received counseling for not completing monthly Police Law Institute online training in a timely manner.
  • Internal Affairs Investigations: He was not the subject of an investigation.

Awards and Commendation:

  • 6/14/2012 – Traffic Unit commended by Chief R. Sean Baldwin for Memorial Weekend traffic enforcement detail.
  • Special Unit Award for 2011 – Traffic Unit
  • 2011 Police Officer of the Year Award
  • 2011 Third Quarter Officer of the Quarter Award
  • 09/2010 – Exceptional Unit Award presented to Neighborhood Policing Bureau Rotation B
  • 08/2010 – Exceptional Police Service Award
  • 01/05/2011 – Commendation from Chief R. Sean Baldwin
  • 12/02/2010 – Commendation from Chief R. Sean Baldwin for feature story about him in the Sunshine Success Stories magazine
  • Training
  • 06/15/2012 – DUI Instructor
  • 02/24/2012 – Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement
  • 12/02/2011 – Standardized Field Sobriety Testing
  • 11/12/2010 – Advanced Training Speed Measurement
  • 03/08/2011 – Breath Test Operator
  • 02/18/2011 – Basic Traffic Homicide Investigation
  • 10/27/2010 – Radiological Monitoring
  • 11/10/2010 – Speed Measurement
  • 02/11/2010 – Suicide Prevention
  • 10/31/2001 – Law Enforcement Baker Act
  • 07/16/2008 – FEMA Introduction to the Incident Command System
  • 07/16/2008 – FEMA National Incident Management System, An Introduction

Certifications

  • Firearm
  • TASER
  • Law Enforcement

Education

  • A.S. degree in Criminal Justice Technology, Indian River State College, 05/2008

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