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Police: Google Sends Gmail Cyber-Tip, Sex Offender Arrested For Child Porn Images

Benjamin Fearnow
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A 41-year-old Houston man was charged with possession and promotion of child pornography after Google’s software detected him sending the images of underage children through his Gmail account and sent a “cyber-tip” to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.  (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

A 41-year-old Houston man was charged with possession and promotion of child pornography after Google’s software detected him sending the images of underage children through his Gmail account and sent a “cyber-tip” to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

Houston, Texas (CBS HOUSTON) — A 41-year-old Houston man was charged with possession and promotion of child pornography after Google’s software detected him sending the images of underage children through his Gmail account and sent a “cyber-tip” to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

John Henry Skillern, a registered sex offender convicted of sexually assaulting an 8-year-old boy in 1994, was detected by Google allegedly sending explicit images of a young girl in an email to a friend. The company tipped off the National Center for Missing and Exploited children that they had tracked the images being sent through his Gmail account – although the exact methods of detection are unclear.

“He was trying to get around getting caught, he was trying to keep it inside his email,” said Det. David Nettles of the Houston Metro Internet Crimes Against Children Taskforce. “I can’t see that information, I can’t see that photo, but Google can.”

A warrant was issued and investigators found additional child porn on his phone and tablet. Police also found video of young children visiting the Denny’s restaurant where Skillern worked as a cook in Pasadena.

Although the sex offender registry said Skillern lives at the 2400 Lidstone address in Houston, police say that he spends a majority of his time living with his parents on Hickory Lane in Pasadena.

“He seemed like a nice, normal man,” said neighbor Yesenia Gonzales.. “Thank goodness for Google.”

Google has repeatedly declined to respond or make comment on exactly what type of technology or software it used to pinpoint the child porn images being emailed by Skillern, but authorities and Nettles said they were grateful for the cyber-tip. The tips sent to the authorities featured only email account and IP addresses for the computers in which the exploitative images were sent.

“I really don’t know how they do their job,” Nettles responded. “But I’m just glad they do it.”

Skillern is being held on $200,000 bond and is charged with one count of possession of child pornography and one count of promotion of child pornography.

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