By Judy Harrison
An Augusta man who taught martial arts to children at a Lewiston karate studio has been charged in federal court with production of child pornography in connection with an alleged sexual assault on the son of a law enforcement officer.
Wade Robert Hoover, 34, originally was charged in state court with possession of sexually explicit materials after child pornography reportedly was found on his personal laptop. He was arrested Oct. 3 at the Augusta office of the Maine chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI, where he worked.
Investigators went to the NAMI office after an agent with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security who was monitoring the Ares computer network saw that 10 known videos of child pornography had been made available over that network to an IP address registered to NAMI, which provides support, education and advocacy to the mentally ill and their families.
No evidence of child pornography was found on the NAMI server, according to court documents. In Hoover’s office, however, police found a laptop computer on the desk next to the office desktop computer.
“On the monitor for the desktop computer in Hoover’s office, a slide show of photographs was playing,” the affidavit filed in federal court said. “The slide show depicted a variety of children doing martial arts. In the background was a banner that read ‘Koshow Warriors.’”
Hoover allegedly admitted to investigators that he used his personal laptop computer to log into the Ares network and download child pornography. During his discussions with agents, Hoover admitted that he “has a sexual preference for … boys between 12 and 14 years of age,” according to court documents.
He was charged Oct. 5 in U.S. District Court in Bangor after investigators interviewed him and examined the hard drives on his computers and a card from a camera. Police found still photographs and videos of Hoover allegedly sexually assaulting a boy who appeared to be between 10 and 13 and asleep, according to court documents.
Hoover told investigators that sometime this spring, he took the boy and another student from the karate studio to a cabin in the woods for two nights. On the laptop seized in the defendant’s office, police found a video of Hoover sexually assaulting the boy, according to the affidavit.
Police interviewed Hoover’s girlfriend, with whom he has an infant daughter, according to court documents. They also interviewed the woman’s father, who is a law enforcement officer and has an 11-year-old son.
The officer told police that his son had gone on an overnight camping trip with Hoover and returned the next day. The father said that when the boy returned home, he appeared to be intoxicated and was “clumsy and stumbling and couldn’t keep his balance.”
“After the overnight, [the father] noticed a marked change in the boy’s attitude toward Mr. Hoover,” the affidavit said. “Where before the overnight, the boy and Mr. Hoover were close friends, after the overnight the boy has been unwilling to spend any time with Mr. Hoover.”
Hoover’s first appearance in federal court in Bangor has not been set.
If convicted, he faces a mandatory minimum of 15 years and up to 30 years in federal prison. He also could be fined up to $250,000.
An earlier version of this story misidentified NAMI as the National Association for the Mentally Ill. It is the National Association on Mental Illness.