A West Rutland man is facing up to 50 years in prison after being accused of multiple counts of possession of child pornography that was allegedly found while investigating claims a child made that he had inappropriately touched her in Burlington.

Travis Shanholtzer, 34, of West Rutland, pleaded not guilty on Monday in Rutland criminal court to 10 felony charge of possession of child pornography.

He was released without bail but ordered not to have contact with anyone younger than 16 and not to have electronic devices like phones or computers.

The charges were based on an affidavit written by Det. Elizabeth Learned, of the University of Vermont Police Services. Learned is assigned to the Chittenden Unit for Special Investigations and the Vermont Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

According to the affidavit, CUSI staff began investigating a complaint in January made by a child who turned 12 on Tuesday.

The initial report by a male relative of the girl who said she had allegedly disclosed being touched by a man she knew. He said the girl had come forward via a text message on Jan. 2.

After getting the message, the man told police, he went to talk to the girl in person and told her “he was there for her and there was nothing that mattered more than she does.”

On Jan. 7, the girl met with a police detective and an investigator from the Vermont Department for Children and Families.

The girl told the investigators that Shanholtzer made her watch videos that she thought showed people having sexual contact. When asked whether the videos showed adults, the girl said she thought it was “kids.”

The girl denied that Shanholtzer ever threatened her but said she was still scared.

“(The girl) explained she was scared Travis would try to hurt her,” the affidavit stated.

Learned said she applied for and was granted a warrant to search Shanholtzer’s West Rutland home on Sept. 15. It was executed the next day by Learned and members of CUSI and ICAC.

Shanholtzer was told the investigation had started in Burlington and told police he had once lived there. Learned said Shanholtzer told police he moved to West Rutland with his parents about two years ago and was receiving medical treatment.

Also, he told police he had a cellphone, a tablet and two laptops and said he had seen some “questionable stuff” when looking at pornography, the affidavit stated.

“During the course of the interview, Travis eventually admitted that we would more than likely find child pornography on at least one of his devices, which he described as a laptop. Travis confirmed the ages of the children in the child pornography would be younger than the age of 12 and that he had more than 100 images and ‘gifs’ on the device,” Learned wrote in the affidavit.

Trooper Brandon Gallant, computer forensic specialist for Vermont State Police conducted a field examination of both laptops and found evidence of child sexual exploitation on both, Learmed said.

On one of the laptop computers, Gallant found more than 1,400 files of suspected child pornography, according to the affidavit.

Shanholtzer was arrested and taken to the Rutland County Sheriff’s Department.

While Learned said Shanholtzer admitted to having “sexual problems,” including exposing himself, he denied having sexual contact with the child but was “evasive” when asked about inappropriate touching.

Shanholtzer was arraigned in September in Chittenden County for lewd and lascivious conduct with a child and disseminating indecent material to a minor. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The affidavit states Shanholtzer’s only criminal history is a misdemeanor from 2004 for which he was charged but not convicted.

Each of the charges of possession of child pornography is punishable by up to five years in prison should Shanholtzer be convicted.

patrick.mcardle @rutlandherald.com

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