Crime & Courts

Child porn trial underway for ex Harvard city clerk, former Wild West Town employee

Andrew Wells, 57, of Harvard
Andrew Wells, 57, of Harvard

A USB drive containing a former Harvard city clerk's tax documents and other personal information is at the center of a child pornography trial that began on Monday.

Several people had access to the desk where 57-year-old Andrew Wells – a former chef for Donley's Village Hall Banquets – helped maintain the company's bookkeeping, his attorney said during opening statements.

During a police interview, Wells told McHenry County Sheriff's Sgt. Michelle Asplund that other work- and tax-related documents on the flash drive did belong to him. Wells never took ownership of the pornographic images, and his work computers and personal devices came up clean. Prosecutors, however, believe time stamps on personal documents that were uploaded to the flash drive directly link Wells to three sexually explicit photos of children that were found on the device.

Wells is charged with multiple counts of possession of child pornography. If McHenry County Judge Michael Coppedge finds Wells guilty, the former city official could face as up to five years in prison.

The allegations are rooted in a July 15, 2016, discovery by Michael Donley, whose family previously owned what is now Onesti's Wild West Town. Donley was searching for a USB drive to save his work on when he spotted one on Wells' desk.

"I glanced over at the desk that Andy used and there was a flash drive laying there," Donley testified Monday.

When he inserted the device into his computer, Donley came across multiple sexually explicit images of underage girls, he said.

At the time, Wells was employed as the Harvard city clerk. He also worked for Village Banquet Hall, which shares an address with the amusement park, Donley and his brother, Randall Donley said.

After finding the files on what prosecutors believe to be Wells' flash drive, Michael Donley gave the USB to his brother, who notified police. Wells would go on to tell police the flash drive and the personal documents it contained belonged to him. Those documents included a previous year's tax return and documents showing Wells' personal email address.

"He said that he forgot he brought it there," Asplund said. Wells never admitted to putting the child pornography on the device, she added.

Investigators were unable to determine where the photos originated and when they were downloaded.

Police arrested Wells in September 2016 following a three-month investigation led by the Sheriff’s Office.

Wells was released from the McHenry County Jail after posting bond on Sept. 21, 2016.

The trial will resume on Wednesday afternoon, when the McHenry County State's Attorney's Office expects to call its final witness.

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