Gig Harbor man charged with possession of child pornography

A Gig Harbor man believed to be the state’s leading downloader of child pornography said he’s struggled with the addiction for years and is grateful he doesn’t have to hide it anymore, according to court records.

Pierce County prosecutors on Friday charged Elwood Anderson, 46, with four counts of first-degree possession of depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Prosecutors said more charges could be filed after they finish reviewing all evidence recovered from Anderson’s electronics.

He pleaded not guilty last Friday at his arraignment. Bail was set at $250,000.

Anderson was arrested Thursday by the State Patrol’s Missing and Exploited Children Task Force, which began to investigate him in May after it received a tip from Seattle authorities.

After detectives determined Anderson had at least 570 child pornography images, they served a search warrant at his home on July 11. Investigators seized two computers, an external hard drive, two cameras and CD cases.

Although no child porn was immediately found, detectives eventually discovered a “virtual computer” on one of Anderson’s hard drives that contained more than 9,000 pornographic images, many of which were of children being sexually abused. A virtual computer is software that allows users to view images without leaving a record.

About 238 videos of suspected child porn also were found on Anderson’s computer.

Lt. Ron Mead said the number of images likely makes Anderson the state’s leading downloader of child porn.

During an interview with detectives, Anderson allegedly admitted to a “long-standing” addiction to pornography, including child porn. He downloaded the images on his work computer, then deleted everything, a process he repeated throughout the years, charging papers state.

“He disclosed that he was remorseful for this behavior and even contacted the bishop of his church to seek guidance on how to handle it,” according to court records.

Anderson allegedly tried to quell his urges by placing the computer in the family room he shared with his wife and four daughters so he could not easily view porn. His family members told investigators they were unaware Anderson was browsing child porn.

“In a way I am glad I got caught ... I’m glad it’s out there so I don’t have to hide it anymore,” Anderson allegedly told a neighbor.