An employee of a Department of Defense (DoD) contractor was arrested by federal agents this week at Fort Huachuca for eight counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, Arizona’s law involving possession of images of child sexual abuse.
Special agents assigned to the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) office in Douglas booked Aaron Michael Bradley into the Cochise County jail Tuesday afternoon, nearly one month after Bradley was identified as a suspect in two separate HSI investigations into BitTorrent, a Peer to Peer (P2P) file sharing program frequently used to distribute illicit digital files.
Roughly 200 images and videos of child sexual abuse were found on electronic devices seized from Bradley’s home under a court-approved search warrant. Some of the files are described in court documents as depicting the sexual abuse of several children by various adult males.
At least one of the videos involves a young child being forced to engage in bestiality, according to a probable cause statement authored by HSI Special Agent Nathan Waryu, the lead case investigator.
Bradley, 40, had an initial court appearance on Wednesday morning which resulted in an order that he be held without bond until trial. The judge based the order on a finding that Bradley posed a “substantial danger to victim or community” as argued by the Cochise County Attorney’s Office.
During a bond hearing Thursday, defense attorney Roger Contreras successfully argued to Judge Jason Lindstrom of the Cochise County Superior Court that Bradley was aware he was under investigation for nearly one month. If Bradley was going to flee, he had ample time already to do so.
Lindstrom agreed, imposing a $100,000 bond after rejecting the prosecutor’s request to go no lower than $250,000. Contreras, the defense attorney, declined a request from Arizona Daily Independent for a comment on the case.
The investigation into Bradley’s online activities began back in May when Waryu, assigned to HSI-Douglas, engaged in a search for known child sexual abuse
material on computers which use BitTorrent software on a Peer to Peer (P2P) network to share images of children being sexually abused.
A Target IP address later found to belong to Bradley was identified during the investigation as having utilized BitTorrent to possess such images. Waryu then discovered the same Target IP address came up in another BitTorrent investigation conducted by HSI-Casa Grande earlier in May.
A subpoena for subscriber information of the Target IP address was served on Cox Communications in June, which identified Bradley as the subscriber. Then on July 12, a search warrant was executed at Bradley’s home in Sierra Vista, with a judge’s permission to seize electronic devices.
That same day, Waryu spoke with Bradley at his residence about the investigation. It is unclear from the probable cause statement whether that discussion was post-Miranda.
Bradley admitted using the BitTorrent network to download music, videos, and .pdf files, Waryu wrote in the probable cause statement.
“Bradly explained that sometimes when he is trying to download music, he has unknowingly downloaded child pornography,” the statement notes. “Bradley explained once he realizes that the file is child pornography and not music, he immediately deletes it.”
However, the forensic examination of the seized devices revealed more than 200 images or videos of child sexual abuse. Most of the victims were under the age of 15, with several between the ages of 6 and 10.
Bradley had not posted bail as of press time. He is slated to return to court Aug. 17 for an Early Resolution hearing followed by a status conference on Aug. 22.
Each of the eight Class 2 felonies is charged as a dangerous crime against children due to the age of the victims. Bradley could spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted of all counts.
Public records show Bradley spent nearly a decade as an UAS operator for the U.S. Army through 2009. Since then, he has worked for various DoD contractors in mostly computer-based positions.
His most recent job started in August 2021 at Fort Huachuca, according to Bradley’s LinkedIn profile.