Eric Blaine Lusk, 42, of Elkin, pleaded guilty to one count of possession of child pornography and one count of production and distribution of obscenity, announced Ripley Rand, United States Attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina.
Lusk entered his plea in Winston-Salem, before United States District Judge Thomas D. Schroeder.
According to the news release, while acting as a professional photographer for youth sporting events, Lusk took close-up photographs of the pubic area of members of a girls’ swim team while the girls were wearing swimsuits. Lusk then anonymously distributed those photographs through file-sharing networks, labeling the photographs with names associated with child pornography, according to the release. By labeling the swim team photographs in that way, the photographs came up as search results for persons seeking child pornography on file-sharing networks, the release said.
The release stated that none of the members of the swim team were photographed nude or in sexual activity.
The release does not specify which school, town, or city the swim photos were taken from, though specifics were requested by The Tribune from the U.S. Attorney’s office.
“Lusk’s activity with the girls’ swim team photographs is the basis of the obscenity charge,” says the report.
When the distribution of the swim team photographs was traced back to Lusk, a search of his computers showed he possessed child pornography independent of any photographs he had taken, says the report.
Lusk was released pending his sentencing on August 29, 2013, at 9:30 a.m. in Winston-Salem.
Lusk faces a maximum sentence of up to 10 years imprisonment, a fine of up to $250,000, and a term of supervised release of five years to life.
Lusk, once a sports writer for The Tribune, graduated from the University North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a degree in journalism. He worked at the Wake Weekly as sports editor, the Cary News as an education reporter and The Verde Independent in Arizona as sports editor, according to a Feb. 6, 2006 Tribune article.
After leaving the Tribune in 2010, he started Lusk Media and continued to cover the area’s athletics through his Yadkin Valley Sports website and Foothills Magazine. His website, yadkinvalleysports.com, was last updated on May 22, 2012.
Lusk was originally arrested on Thursday, May 24, 2012.
“I’m stunned,” said State Road resident John Huckenson, who said that he knew of Lusk. “I hope he finds God and is sorry for his sins. Hopefully none of the victims have been traumatized from it.”
The Lusk case was investigated by members of the North Carolina Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, including the Pitt County Sheriff’s Office, Elkin Police Department and North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Anand P. Ramaswamy.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. It was led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe.
Reaction to this story is developing and will be included in future articles.
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