Child porn accusations against couple were uncle's lies, police say

Aimee Ambrose
York Dispatch

An anonymous tip landed on a cop’s desk three weeks ago, a report about a brazen attempt to sell child pornography in broad daylight.

The tip, according to police, told a story about how two people from Conewago Township came to the anonymous source at the Penn State-Auburn football game Sept. 17 with an offer to sell child porn.

That tipster alleged that the people pulled out a phone and showed the source a few samples, including images of abuse involving one of the people’s children, according to court records. The tipster reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and the information made its way to Northern York County Regional Police by Sept. 21 as a priority due to suspected active abuse.

But police say the child porn tip was a fabrication, alleging that the resulting investigation showed it was all the result of an uncle angry with a relative.

The uncle, William Sanders, 47, of Pasadena, Maryland, now faces false reporting charges following an investigation into the child porn claims. Sanders, who has not yet been arrested on the charges, did not respond to a request for comment Thursday. Court records indicate he doesn't yet have an attorney.

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In a criminal complaint, Northern York County Regional Police said an officer, along with a York County Children, Youth and Families staff member, spoke to the people accused in the tip as well as their children at their home, the complaint shows.

Interviews with them found nothing suspicious occurring, and no protective steps were taken, police said.

But during the interviews, police said the one woman involved suspected her uncle, Sanders, reported the abuse complaint, the charging document shows.

She told police Sanders assaulted her while she was in Maryland checking on her mother. She also alleged that on the same day the child porn complaint was filed, her mother filed some kind of legal action against Sanders, and that he blamed the woman for the familial discord, the criminal complaint shows.

Court records in Maryland show Sanders was charged in Anne Arundel County with a misdemeanor assault count on Sept. 1. The online court system doesn’t show a record for the other filing.

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The woman also told the officer a similar situation occurred in 2018, alleging an anonymous sex abuse referral was made against her right after that previous incident, the complaint shows.

The officer tracked the IP address from the abuse report to Sanders’ phone number and called him. Police alleged that he wouldn’t answer any questions.

Sanders was charged in York County with misdemeanor counts of false reports of child abuse and falsely incriminating another. Court records indicate he hasn’t been arrested in the case yet.

— Reach Aimee Ambrose at aambrose@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @aimee_TYD.