WALLA WALLA - An area man has been arrested for allegedly taking pornographic pictures of a preteen girl, possessing the images and having sexual intercourse with her on two occasions this summer.
Carl G. Bell Jr., 31, of 519 Coppei Ave., Waitsburg, is lodged in the Walla Walla County Jail. Bail was set this morning at $100,000.
Walla Walla police said the investigation began Tuesday when they received evidence of the crimes.
Officials believe that, beginning two or three months ago, Bell started taking posed, nude pictures of the girl on multiple occasions, ostensibly to help her submit them to a modeling agency. The agency, however, existed only through an e-mail account Bell created to receive the pictures from the girl, police Detective Mike Boettcher said in an interview.
Bell also allegedly had sexual intercourse with the girl at his residence in July and in a vehicle somewhere between Dixie and Waitsburg in late August.
In addition, Bell persuaded the girl to take seven pictures of a different girl in naked poses at a park in Waitsburg in late August, Boettcher said.
Police reportedly obtained the digital images of the girls by serving a search warrant Tuesday afternoon. They contacted Bell at his place of employment, confiscated his cell phone and laptop computer and took him to the police station for questioning.
He was arrested, booked into jail Wednesday and is awaiting formal charges.
Until then, Bell is being held on investigation of two counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, 10 counts of first-degree possession of depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct and two counts of first-degree rape of a child.
Police also have seized a digital camera, additional laptops, a tower-type computer and two more cell phones that may yield evidence of further crimes. For instance, Boettcher said, Bell was trying to solicit a third girl to send nude pictures to the e-mail address.
"We don't know how many victims we may or may not have out there," Boettcher said.
Anyone having information about the case is asked to call him at 509-524-4361.
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