The suspect, 55, denied having pornography stored in his phone when he was confronted by police April 20, according to court papers. However, he told police he was viewing pornography at the library and the images included pictures of naked children.
He told an officer that he was on a website he believed would have nude photographs that would be artistic in nature.
Snohomish police took his phone and a transfer cord as evidence.
A library patron called 911 after spotting a man viewing suspected child pornography, court papers said. The caller provided a detailed description of the man.
The witness was "so disturbed by his observations" that he followed the man when he left the library, Snohomish police wrote in an affidavit to establish probable cause for an arrest.
The suspect is being held on $100,000 bail. No charges have been filed.
"The suspect was in the Snohomish library using one of their computer terminals to access the Internet," Snohomish County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Shari Ireton said. "The suspect attached his phone, using a USB cable, (to) the terminal and was able to pull images from the Internet onto his phone."
A detective reportedly found on the phone more than 50 photographs depicting children as young as 2 being sexually exploited.
More than two dozen photographs were determined to have been loaded onto the phone at the time the man was at the library, according to the affidavit.
"The library has been completely cooperative and doing everything they can to assist with our investigation," Ireton said. "They immediately removed the terminal from the public area of the library and are holding it until the detective gets a search warrant to inspect it further."
All computers in the Sno-Isle Libraries system have Internet filters. The Snohomish Public Library is part of the 21-branch system that serves more than 750,000 people and includes a collection of 1.4 million items.
Library users 17 and older can choose an option to have unfiltered Internet access. The exception is to computers that are in the children's sections where all computers have filtered access.
Internet access at public libraries is challenging for libraries, Sno-Isle spokesman Ken Harvey said.
"We work hard to provide a delicate balance to providing access to constitutionally protected forms of information to all those who we serve but we're also absolutely working to ensure we are not providing access to illegal materials or illegal activity," Harvey said.
Additionally, if library staff see a customer engaging in illegal activity, including accessing child pornography, they call 911.
If a staff member suspects someone is viewing illegal material, that worker will tell the customer to stop or police will be notified.
"One thing we always would like to remind the community of is if they see something in or around the library to always let staff know," Harvey said. "So if they see something, say something."
Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, firstname.lastname@example.org
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