Olympia soldier charged with possessing child porn

An Army National Guard soldier from Olympia has been charged with possessing child pornography after a cache of sexually explicit photographs of young girls were found on his barracks computer while his unit was undergoing annual training at the Yakima training center.

Brandon Hughes-Ranahan, who joined the Washington Army National Guard after two deployments to Iraq, remains in custody on federal charges. He is a member of the 81st Brigade Combat Team (Heavy), which is headquartered at Seattle and has units around the state.

Hughes-Ranahan is married and has seven children. He began working two years ago as a truck driving instructor.

Prosecutors said more charges might be filed because investigators still are reviewing electronic devices seized from Hughes-Ranahan’s home and because investigators said he confessed to molesting two girls. Officials said the National Guard has begun the process of discharging him.

Court documents gave this account:

The investigation started June 28 after a fellow soldier stumbled across child porn on Hughes-Ranahan’s barracks computer. The soldier said he was bored and browsing for movies when he found a file on the computer labeled “non-Approp.”

After seeing sexually explicit images of children, the soldier notified his superiors, who called authorities. Because Hughes-Ranahan is considered a civilian, the FBI took over the case.

Investigators said Hughes-Ranahan admitted during interviews to collecting child porn since 1999. The majority of images found on his barracks computer were downloaded while he was deployed to Iraq in 2008-09.

He told investigators “he had many soldiers that he swapped pornography with while in Iraq,” court documents show.

Hughes-Ranahan confessed to molesting one of the girls more than 30 times and taking pornographic images of her in the last six months, charging papers said. The abuse happened as recently as May.

Fellow soldiers told detectives that Hughes-Ranahan bragged about being a “sexual freak” and showing his teenage children pornography to teach them about sex. He also laughed about training the kids how to respond to Child Protective Services, they said.

Hughes-Ranahan has been referred to CPS seven times since 2005, mostly for physical abuse, records show.