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Former Harvard city clerk found guilty of possessing child porn

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

A former longtime Harvard city clerk was found guilty Thursday of storing child pornography on a flash drive at an amusement park office space where he also worked.

Throughout the trial, there was no evidence proving that 57-year-old Andrew Wells, of Harvard, personally searched for or downloaded the multiple lewd images of underage girls. However, McHenry County Judge Michael Coppedge questioned how Wells could have overlooked clearly pornographic file names saved among dozens of Wells’ personal documents.

“How is it possible the defendant would not have explored what materials were being added to the USB?” Coppedge asked in court Thursday.

Coppedge found Wells guilty on a single count of possession of child pornography – a felony punishable by probation or up to five years in prison.

Additional images were stored in folders that had inconspicuous titles, such as “attachments,” Coppedge said. Without evidence that Wells personally created those folders or knew they contained child pornography, Coppedge found Wells not guilty on the remaining two counts.

Wells, who no longer works for the city of Harvard, is scheduled for sentencing hearing Jan. 24.

A trial that began Dec. 2 included testimony from Michael Donley, a former employee of what used to be called Donley’s Wild West Town in Union. Donley and his brother, Randy Donley, called police after discovering the child pornography on Wells’ USB drive in July 2016, both men testified during the trial.

At the time, Wells worked for another of the Donleys’ businesses, Village Hall Banquets. Although he was not an official theme park employee, Wells previously worked as a chef at the Donleys’ restaurant next to the park grounds. At the time of his arrest, Wells also performed bookkeeping duties out of the Wild West Town office building.

Michael Donley said his family spent decades building the Wild West Town brand with an emphasis on family.

After 45 years in business, a new owner took over the theme park earlier this year. The Donleys are hopeful that Wells’ former connection to the property won’t tarnish the family business’s good name.

“Behavior exhibited by Mr. Wells will never be tolerated by myself, my family or the people who visit and support the park,” Michael Donley said.

Wells’ attorney, McHenry County Assistant Public Defender Angelo Mourelatos, said a handful of people had access to the desk where Wells’ flash drive was located.

McHenry County sheriff’s deputies also never searched the computers surrounding Wells’ desk in their attempt to identify where the images originated, Mourelatos said.

It wasn’t only child pornography saved to the flash drive, however. Along with tax returns and credit reports, the USB also contained Wells’ log-in information for various websites. One of those sites was a webcam pornography site, sheriff’s Sgt. Michelle Asplund testified.

The personal documents were backed up to the device both before and after the child pornography was saved, Assistant State’s Attorney Robert Ladd said, adding that Wells must have known the pornographic images were there.

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