AUGUSTA — Convicted sex offender Robert L. Robinson III, 34, of Augusta, was arrested Thursday on three charges of possession of sexually explicit material depicting a child under the age of 12.

Robinson’s arrest follows a monthslong investigation starting in January, when police heard complaints about him photographing young girls in public.

“Detectives from the Augusta Police Department obtained a search warrant, and worked in conjunction with the Maine Computer Crimes Task Force to execute the warrant in search of evidence of the reported crimes,” Augusta Police Department Deputy Chief Kevin Lully wrote in a Friday morning news release.

Lully said detectives hunted through all the images on Robinson’s various social media accounts, leading to the three charges.

“We would like to thank the public for their assistance and patience; cases of this nature take time due the complexity of obtaining evidence,” he said.

Robinson is a lifetime registrant on the sex offender registry. He was sentenced in 2006 to serve an initial six months in prison, with the remainder of the five-year sentence suspended, and four years probation, on three counts of engaging in a sexual act with another person that had not attained the age of 14 years, according to the Maine Sex Offender Registry. Those convictions prohibit Robinson from “intentionally or knowingly initiating direct or indirect contact” with children under 14, the arrest affidavit read.

In the new changes, an affidavit, written by Sgt. Jesse Brann, of the Augusta Police Department, and filed Friday at the Capital Judicial Center, said Robinson’s account on Flickr — a photo-sharing platform — once had more than 300,000 photos on it. Brann said “thousands of images and videos” on various accounts showed Robinson “in close proximity to girls under the age of 14.”

Brann wrote that Robinson expressed in at least one update on his social media accounts “that sex with children should be legal.”

On Jan. 24, police obtained and executed a warrant to search and seize computer-related property from Robinson at his Northern Avenue apartment.

Robinson told Brann while the warrant was being executed that he “is attracted to young girls … once a girl reaches puberty.”

Robinson admitted to officers that there might be child pornography on the seized computers. He told Brann that “he was stupid and believed nights when he was intoxicated by alcohol and narcotics that he looked up websites he shouldn’t have.” These websites, Robinson explained, are hosted on the “dark web” and included chat groups that talk about pedophilia. Robinson said some conversations about children as young as 6 “actually bothered him,” Brann wrote.

The affidavit said that Robinson admitted to Brann that he was sexually attracted to the girls he photographed in public.

On May 10, Brann met with Maine Computer Crimes analysts who said they analyzed 100,000 photos on Robinson’s computers and found “a few images of what would be considered child pornography.”

Brann reviewed images for nine hours, according to the affidavit, and located “multiple images of girls who I was aware were under the age of fourteen that had been taken in Augusta.”

Some images from Robinson’s computer — some digitally altered and some not — showed children “approximately four to six years old” in sexually explicit scenarios, Brann wrote.

Robinson was arrested Thursday night.

A judge on Friday set Robinson’s bail at $10,000 cash, with conditions requiring a Maine Pretrial Services supervision contract and banning him from contact with children under 16 years of age and from using computers or cellphones that connect to the Internet. Robinson is being held at the Kennebec County jail.

At Robinson’s initial court appearance via video link with the jail, attorney Henry Beck, representing Robinson as attorney of the day, suggested a high unsecured bail with a Maine Pretrial Services contract.

Beck told Judge Eric Walker that while the computer crimes charges are serious, Robinson “suffers from a severe spectrum disorder, lives on Social Security and has in-home support three times a week.

“I believe there are health and safety issues having him here at the facility,” Beck said.

Robinson’s fingers on his right hand twitched constantly and he scratched repeatedly at his balding scalp while he stood next to Beck. Robinson also said he understood the charges against him.

The prosecutor at the hearing, Assistant District Attorney Carie James, argued for $10,000 cash bail with conditions for Robinson, saying, “There is no indication he can refrain from criminal conduct,” and that it was necessary “for the integrity of the justice system.”

The Maine Legislature, prompted by outrage this winter, began work on a bill to try to curb behavior similar to Robinson’s. On April 2, a law evolving from the bill was enacted to protect children under 14 from being photographed by “Certain Persons.”

The law differs greatly from the bill introduced in the Legislature, which began as “An Act To Establish as a Class D Crime the Intentional Photographing of a Minor without Consent of the Minor’s Parent or Guardian by an Individual Required To Register as a Sex Offender.”

The law identifies as criminal conduct “a person photographing another person who has not in fact attained 14 years of age after the person’s having been notified, in writing or otherwise, by a law enforcement officer, corrections officer or judicial officer not to engage in that conduct. The notification not to engage in that conduct expires after a year.”

Class D crimes are punishable by up to one year in prison and/or fines of up to $2,000.

Rep. Matt Pouliot, R-Augusta, the bill’s sponsor, told the Kennebec Journal in January that he introduced the legislation after hearing from upset constituents.

Betty Adams contributed to this report.

Sam Shepherd — 621-5666

[email protected]

Twitter: @SamShepME

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