FAA employee arrested on internet child pornography charges

By Bill Dwyer for Chronicle Media

Richard Barnett, 39, of Aurora

An Aurora resident who works as a safety inspector for the Federal Aviation Administration has been charged with producing and transporting pornographic material involving girls between ages nine and 11.

Richard Barnett, 39, was arrested by federal agents at his Aurora home on Monday. He was scheduled to have a detention hearing in Chicago federal court Wednesday afternoon.

According to his LinkedIn account, Barnett, a 14-year veteran of the Navy, previously worked as a TSA agent in Kentucky. In March he began work as an Aviation Safety Inspector at Federal Aviation Administration in Des Plaines.

The LinkedIn account also indicates Barnett was a member of the Eagle Mountain-Saginaw Independent School District PTA  in Saginaw, Texas between 2012 and 2015.

He is also listed as a being a Trick or Treat volunteer for a church in Keller, Texas in 2014.
The website indicates Barnett left the Navy sometime in 2015.

Federal prosecutors laid out their case against Barnett in a 22-page criminal complaint that charged him with single counts of producing child pornography and transporting child pornography. He faces between 15 and 30 years in prison if convicted.

Investigators  say Barnett used a social media app, “musical.ly” to contact four girls in Florida and Louisiana.

The musical.ly app allows users to create videos up to one minute long which can then be shared with others on the site.

Authorities in Jacksonville, Florida were first notified in May that several young girls at an elementary school, all of whom were aged 10 or 11 years old, had received “obscene text messages” via their cell phones. In June the parents of a nine-year-old Louisiana girl alerted police that a musical.ly user named davidbanks10l4 was engaging in sexual conversation with their daughter.

Prosecutors say that, using the name ”davidbanks1014,” Barnett allegedly claimed he was a 13-year-old boy and engaged in sexually explicit conversations with the girls on musical.ly, urging them to send photos and videos of them naked and engaging in sexual behavior.

Barnett also allegedly threatened to kidnap, rape and murder some of the girls, telling them he knew where they lived. When his conversation with one girl became “insulting and aggressive,” investigators say, Barnett transmitted a photo of a hand gun and told her, “thats mine, i can and WILL shoot you, keep talking crap, im sick of your crap, now your done.”

“ill find you,” Barnett allegedly told the girl. “your phone has GPS… im going to **** you, over and over and then kill you. So your ***** ****** ***** is mine.”

In an affidavit with the criminal complaint, federal agents who executed a search warrant on Barnett’s residence say they found numerous files on his computer, including ones labeled ”young g1rl,” “young teen” and “pthc.”

“Based upon my experience and training,” an agent wrote, “ I know that ‘pthc’ is a common acronym for “ pre-teen hardcore.”