Local man charged with 100 counts involving child pornography

A custodian with the Hot Springs School District who was arrested early Friday at his home allegedly used his Facebook account to possess and distribute more than 100 sexually explicit images involving children, according to the probable cause affidavit.

Paul Benjamin Merritt Jr., 30, of 948 Whittington, was taken into custody at his residence at around 6 a.m. Friday after FBI agents and Hot Springs police served him with a federal warrant. He was charged with 100 felony counts of distributing, possessing and viewing of matter depicting sexually explicit conduct involving a child, each punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

He remained in custody Tuesday in lieu zero bond, and is set to appear in Garland County District Court on Sept. 12.

According to the affidavit, Hot Springs police Detective Kenny May, who assisted the FBI in serving the warrant, was told by FBI Agent Nizam Alexander that the FBI had reportedly located electronic devices inside the apartment containing sexually explicit images involving children.

Alexander was also able to confirm Merritt reportedly possessed and distributed more than 100 images depicting sexually explicit content involving juveniles using his Facebook account.

After the warrant was executed, Alexander spoke with Merritt, who allegedly admitted to receiving, possessing and distributing the images in question.

Merritt later reportedly told May he sought out, received and shared numerous images of juveniles on Facebook. He also allegedly admitted to being sexually attracted to females as young as 10 years old.