A Columbus man accused of having 500 child pornography images, including pictures of a 7-year-old boy who lives in his home, was ordered held Tuesday on $150,000 bonds.
Micheal Hardy Johnson, 20, pleaded not guilty in Columbus Recorder’s Court to 15 counts of sexual exploitation of a child. Police accuse him of having at least 500 images of boys aged 6 to 15 years old on a cell phone that a family member discovered Sunday.
“Police spoke to several witnesses who said they observed multiple pictures of children engaged in sexual acts,” testified Detective Katina Williams. Williams estimated that the photos are of more than 200 different children and adults.
Johnson’s brother, who lives at Johnson’s Columbus home, discovered the pictures Sunday. The brother confronted Johnson, showed other family members and then called his father. The father called police, Williams said.
In a police interview, Johnson said he exchanges pictures through his cell phone with people he’s contacted on a website. He’s forwarded at least 100 such images to others on his own phone, Williams said.
The detective added that Johnson denied taking pictures of the child who lives in his home. Johnson identified the boy in the photos, which don’t show his face, though he couldn’t say how he knows it’s the child.
Johnson isn’t related to the boy, Williams said.
Williams said Johnson told her he’s a youth mentor at Body Of Christ Church International in Phenix City, where he volunteers teaching life skills. “He stated that his job was to show boys how to become men and men to become kings,” Williams added.
Dr. Gregory K. Blue, the church’s senior pastor, said that while Johnson is a church member, he is not a youth mentor.
“He does not have a title,” Blue added. “He is definitely not a mentor of our church.
“He attends church. He attends Bible study,” Blue said. “Nothing out of the ordinary. No deviant qualities or aberrant behavior. No mental issues or anything. He seems to be a likeable guy. I like him. He’s pretty much upbeat.”
Blue added that his church is praying for everyone involved in the case, including Johnson.