May 28, 2020
Last week, the Utah Attorney General’s Office Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force charged a Utah man after he allegedly groomed a 6-year-old girl by chatting through video and text for over a year and received sexually explicit images of her and her 6-year-old cousin.
Danny Steven Hardman, 43, was charged in the 3rd District Court with four counts of Sexual Exploitation of a Minor, a second-degree felony.
On April 13, 2020, Facebook reported that four images of child pornography had been sent to Hardman through Facebook Messenger. The Facebook account that sent the images belonged to a 6-year-old girl in Indiana. The account was setup “as a permitted child account associated with a parent Facebook account”. In an interview with Indiana law enforcement, the mother of the victim admitted to approving the Facebook contact with Hardman and that they had met Hardman through a mutual friend and played online video games together. She denied knowledge that Hardman had been chatting with her daughter. She was able to identify the other 6-year-old girl in the photos as a cousin who often visited their home.
On May 21, 2020, agents served a search warrant on Hardman’s home. During an interview, Hardman admitted to chatting with the victim for over a year, almost every day through both video chat and Facebook Messenger. He stated that these chats would often last for over an hour but were never sexual.
The charges state that Hardman had “built a close personal relationship with the victims in this case through more than a year-long pattern of grooming behavior”.
The Court ordered bail be set at $500,000.