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Area babysitter will go to trial on molestation, child pornography charges

 

A man accused of molesting young children he was hired to baby-sit and possessing child pornography appeared in Contra Costa County Superior Court for a preliminary hearing Wednesday afternoon, and will go to trial on more than a half-dozen felony charges.

Brandon Genest, 28, was arrested June 4 after a Walnut Creek family came forward to report that sexually inappropriate behavior had occurred while they left their three young children in his care.

The victims told investigators that Genest allegedly showed the children his penis and asked if they wanted to touch it. Two of them had done so, according to Officer Kim Gerstner and Detective Amber Martin with the Walnut Creek Police Department, both of who testified at Wednesday's hearing.

After Genest's arrest, the subsequent news coverage generated roughly 40 calls to investigators who were asking other victims to come forward.

Genest consented to a search of his smartphone, according to Martin, and detectives allegedly discovered at least two images of child pornography. After searching other devices, they allegedly found more.

Using metadata from the photographs, detectives were allegedly able to connect the GPS coordinates connected to those images with the addresses of additional victims.

Genest was ultimately charged with multiple counts of lewd acts upon a child, indecent exposure, child molesting and possession of child or youth pornography.

Cynthia Scofield, an attorney with the Office of the Public Defender pointed out that the initial victim interviews conducted by Gerstner were not conducted at the Children's Interview Center, which specializes in "forensic interviews" with minors who may have been sexually assaulted, and that the statements made by the alleged victims may have been influenced by others.

Scofield also asked that the child pornography charge be reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor, as the images entered into evidence did not depict sexual acts between an adult and a child, but that argument was rejected by Judge Theresa Canepa.

"We're talking about a person of trust baby-sitting very small children," Canepa said. "Unfortunately, the pictures are of those children."

Genest is scheduled to return to court Dec. 3.

— Bay City News Service

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