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Former PSL officer pleads guilty to child porn

Posted at 2:25 PM, Feb 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-23 23:49:25-05

A former Port St. Lucie police officer pleaded guilty Monday to multiple child exploitation charges, according to a news release. 

Officials say , 27-year-old Michael Edwin Harding, entered pleas to three counts of possession and distribution of material involving sexual exploitation of minors, attempting to coerce and enticing a minor to engage in sexual activity and production of child pornography.

According to court documents, between July 23 and August 4, Harding posted multiple images and videos to a chat room on a popular social media application showing children engaging in sexually explicit activities and one hundred videos of minors engaged in sex acts with adults. 

READ RELATED: Port St. Lucie Police Officer Michael Harding charged with child porn

Investigators seized Heading's  computer, cell phone and thumb drive, along with other materials following a search warrant in September. Hundreds of images and more than one hundred videos of minors engaged in sex acts with adults were recovered. 

Chat messages stored on Harding's phone show a conversation between Harding and another person. Both claimed to have custody of children who they would trade for sexual activity, the news release said. 

Harding produced child porn by using his cellphone to shoot a video showing his sexual contact with a child under the age of 12. Detectives say a thumbnail image from the video was located on his cellphone during a computer forensic examination. 

Harding faces up to life in prison and will have to register as a sex offender in any jurisdiction in which he lives. Sentencing is scheduled for May 16.