Youth organization founder faces new child sex abuse charges

Southern State Correctional Facility
Wayne Miller is being held at the Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield. File photo by Elizabeth Hewitt/VTDigger

The founder of a youth mentoring organization is facing a series of new child sex abuse charges while continuing to be held in prison.

Wayne Miller, 34, pleaded not guilty in July to an initial charge of repeated aggravated sexual abuse of a child – a felony punishable by 25 years to life in prison – as well as a dozen new felonies: four counts of use of a child in a sexual performance and eight counts of possession of child sexual abuse material.

Authorities allege that between June 2020 and July 2021, while living in Hartland, Miller repeatedly sexually assaulted an 18-month-old child. He is also accused of producing several child sexual abuse materials involving the toddler during this period.

Miller, founder and former director of a mentoring organization for black youth in Vermont and New Hampshire, is being held without bail at the Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield.

He has been detained since his arrest on Dec. 8, the same day police raided his home in Claremont, New Hampshire, and seized several items, including cellphones and laptops.

Police said they began investigating Miller in November 2020 after the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s CyberTipline — the nation’s centralized reporting system for online child exploitation — forwarded a “cybertip” to the Vermont Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

The trick came from Google, whose systems detected that a user was trying to send an email containing child sexual abuse material. The suspected illegal file, which appeared in the tooltip, was later traced to Miller’s account, according to court documents.

Miller is now asking the court to dismiss all of the state’s evidence in his case, arguing that it stemmed from police’s illegal expansion of Google’s private search on his email.

“Beyond this initial denunciation, the state had no independent grounds upon which they were investigating Mr. Miller,” defense attorney Evan Antal said in a written motion.

Antal said the Vermont Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force only asked for search warrants on Miller after he viewed the suspected child sex abuse material — but no one at Google did just before that. the file is forwarded to the National Center.

In response, the Vermont attorney general’s office said police investigators acted lawfully.

The prosecutor, Assistant Attorney General Sophie Stratton, said in a written motion that the task force learned nothing it didn’t already know from viewing Google’s file. Cybertip, she said, classified the digital file as depicting a prepubescent child engaged in a sexual act.

Stratton said Google’s systems flagged the file because it matched the “hash,” or fingerprint, of known child sexual abuse material. She said Google representatives personally review this material before adding their hash values ​​to a repository of apparent child sexual abuse material.

The question awaits an answer from Judge John Treadwell, sitting in the Superior Court of Windsor County.

Miller had also been charged in federal court with producing child sexual abuse material. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Vermont dismissed his case without prejudice in May, meaning it could be refiled.

Asked about the dismissal, the state attorney general’s office said it was working closely with the U.S. attorney’s office on child sexual abuse and Internet crimes against children cases.

The offices have decided that the state will prosecute Miller, while the Vermont U.S. Attorney’s Office reserves the right to reinstate the federal case at any time, said Lauren Jandl, chief of staff for Vermont Attorney General Susanne Young. .

The state also dismissed a second charge of repeated aggravated sexual abuse of a child that had already been brought against Miller, incorporating the date of the alleged offense into its updated charge of the same title.

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