Lauderdale County man charged with child pornography, jailed on $14 million bond

LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. - Authorities have charged a man with dozens of counts of producing child porn, as well as sexual abuse.

Jonathan Romine, 45, was arrested after he turned himself in Wednesday on 88 counts of child porn production, 2,794 counts of child porn possession, sexual abuse of a child under 12, and enticing a child.

Lauderdale County Sheriff's Office investigators said they started investigating Romine after a girl came forward and said he was abusing her.

Romine was jailed on bonds totaling $14,080,000.

Rose Street is a quiet street in Rogersville. It's also where neighbors say 45-year-old Johnathon Romine has lived most of his life.

WHNT News 19's did knock on the door. No one answered right away, but eventually a woman came outside.  When the reporter identified themself, she told them not to come on her property.

Neighbors didn't want to go on camera, but they say Romine lived with his mother.  He didn't have a job. And they describe him as, quote, "odd".

Romine was not on law enforcement's radar until a young girl came forward to report that he sexually abused her. Investigators say the abuse took place more than once over the course of a year.

After the report was made, officers got a warrant to search his home on Rose Street.

"We collected numerous, numerous cell phones, computers, thumb drives, flash drives, sim cards, from that we got all the counts," said Matt Horton with the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Office. "He was taking images of young females and cropping those images and placing them on the bodies of nude individuals."

Horton couldn't say if any of the children in the photos were from the area. He doesn't believe Romine was working with anyone else in the community to produce the images.

He has a message for any other criminals in the community who are manufacturing child pornography.

"You're going to get caught. it might not be today, it might not be tomorrow. but you're going to eventually get caught."

Court records show he's due to be arraigned in Lauderdale County Circuit Court April 29. Horton says if Romine is found guilty of all the charges against him he could be spending the rest of his life in prison.

Fighting internet crimes against children

Lauderdale County investigators have been working to bust people involved with the possession or creation of child pornography.
A member of the Sheriff's Office and the Florence Police Department that are part of what's called an Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

"A lot of these individuals, they share the images that they have with each other. These are all done electronically and so from that there's a record obviously of this electronic sharing. So, thats how were able to find and locate these individuals and develop cases from them," Horton said.

It might seem like more people are committing these kinds of criminal acts because more people are getting caught, but Sergeant Horton with the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Office says he believes crimes like this have been happening for a long time. He
is glad the sheriff's office has the technology to catch these criminals and put them behind bars.

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