LADYSMITH — An Exeland man will serve a three-year prison sentence after he was convicted Monday of possessing child pornography stemming from a July 2019 arrest.

David M. Johnson, 50, pleaded guilty to one count in Rusk County Court. Judge Steven Anderson ordered the prison sentence, along with three years of extended supervision. Johnson also must register as a sex offender for 15 years. He also must take any sex offender treatment course recommended by his probation agent.

According to the criminal complaint, a special agent in the Wisconsin Department of Justice, Division of Criminal Investigation received a cyber tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, who received the tip from Microsoft. The tip stated that Johnson’s IP address was suspected of sharing child pornography. The cyber tip included a file of child pornography that Johnson had obtained.

The DCI agent, with the assistance of the Rusk County Sheriff’s Office, executed a search warrant of Johnson’s home at N9076 Godfrey Road on July 11, 2019.

When questioned by officers, Johnson “admitted to viewing child pornography online but stated that the first time it was by accident. (He) admitted to viewing cartoons of child pornography and researching a famous child pornography case.”

However, the DCI digital forensics unit examined electronic devices in his home and “located numerous files of child pornography on an external hard drive.” At that point, Johnson admitted that the hard drive was his, and he had owned it for approximately 10 years. He admitted he knew about the child pornography on the drive, but he claimed “the files were sent to him by an ex-wife’s husband in an attempt to get him in trouble.”

Johnson then admitted he saved the images, and he admitted he both searched for and viewed child pornography.

The complaint provides detailed descriptions of 10 different images of child pornography, showing girls that were clearly underage, that were found on Johnson’s devices.