Ex-Port Neches fire chief indicted this week following 2021 child porn arrest

Published 4:14 pm Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Ex-Port Neches Fire Chief Paul Edward Nelson has been indicted this week on child pornography charges two years after his initial arrest.

During the time in between Nelson moved to another county and earlier this month was arrested on similar charges.

Nelson, 57, was indicted by a Jefferson County grand jury on two charges of possession of child pornography, which are third degree felonies.

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Court documents released Wednesday did not provide much further information, other than the date of the offenses, Jan. 13, 2021, and he intentionally and knowingly possesses visual material that visually depicted a child young under 18 years of age engaging in sexual conduct.

Nelson as originally arrested in Port Neches in January 2021 on child pornography charges, then bonded out before moving to Montgomery County.

He is in the Montgomery County jail after being arrested Oct. 2 for promotion of child pornography, a second degree felony, and online solicitation of a minor, a third degree felony.

Nelson was set for an initial hearing in the 359th District Court in Montgomery County with Judge Kathleen Hamilton this week, but the hearing was reset to Nov. 6, according to information from the court.

Jefferson County allegations

In January 2021 Nelson was arrested in Port Neches on two charges of possession and promotion of child pornography. Bond was set at $50,000, and he bonded out the next day.

The Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office said in 2021 that members of the Office of the Texas Attorney General’s Child Exploitation Unit executed the arrest and search warrant for Nelson.

The warrants were the result of a National Center for Missing and Exploited Children CyberTipline Report from a social media site involving the transmission and receipt of child pornography through private messages.

A representative of Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office said no case was ever filed on Nelson.

Port Neches Police Chief Cheri Griffith, who was not chief at the time of Nelson’s arrest, said PNPD is under the impression the Jefferson County cases are still active.

Griffith said PNPD assisted the Texas Attorney General’s Child Exploitation Office when the agency came out to search Nelson’s property but had no involvement in the case since then.

It is unknown how the case slipped though the system during which time another alleged victim was found in Montgomery County.

Montgomery County

According to the Montgomery County arrest warrant, the female juvenile victim said she made a post on Reddit and interacted with an unknown person on the Internet who portrayed themselves as a 35-year-old lesbian woman who asked if she wanted to talk.

The juvenile was reportedly told the woman, “Janette from Spring,” was a single mother of a 13-year-old daughter and they actively participated in a nudist lifestyle.

Law enforcement located the juvenile victim and met with her and her parents, where they reportedly confirmed the Cyber Tip information. A photo was allegedly sent from “Janette” to the juvenile of what appeared to be a female between the ages of 12 and 16 that Janette said was her daughter who attended a middle school in Spring.

“Janette” reportedly sent nude female adult photos to the juvenile, and the victim was asked to send explicit photos of herself, as well.

Law enforcement sent an administrative subpoena to Reddit for information on IP connection logs and the investigation continued. The information reportedly led law enforcement to Nelson and showed he was previously charged in Jefferson County.

The Montgomery County arrest document stated Nelson had used the same “modus operandi” for the offence as he used in Jefferson County by portraying himself as a female member of a nudist community to solicit explicit content from a child.

An indictment is not a final conviction of guilt; it is only a ruling by the grand jury that allows the district attorney’s office to proceed with a criminal case.