Man charged with child sexual exploitation allegedly downloaded, shared video

·1 min read

Jul. 17—A tip that a 31-year-old Manhattan man had downloaded and shared a lewd video of a young girl led to his arrest last month on charges of child sexual exploitation, according to documents obtained by The Mercury.

The Pottawatomie County Sheriff's Office on Friday released the arrest warrant affidavit for Zach Bayless, a former Manhattan Department of Parks and Recreation employee.

The document says that the Sheriff's Office in January received a tip from the National Center for Exploited and Missing children that a user on an messaging app called Kik downloaded a video of a child in "stages of undress" and shared it with another group of users on the app.

The account information led detectives to Bayless, who faces two counts of sexual exploitation of a child. In the first count, Bayless allegedly "promoted a performance that includes sexually explicit conduct by a child" under the age of 14, according to a criminal complaint from the Pottawatomie County Attorney's Office. The second count charges Bayless with possessing sexually explicit content involving minors.

On May 13, officers executed a search warrant at Bayless' home. They confiscated his iPhone, an Apple watch, a laptop belonging to the Manhattan city government and three other laptop computers. Officers found more sexually explicit videos of children of various ages downloaded to the phone, according to the affidavit.

Bayless' next court appearance is a status hearing at 10 a.m. July 27 in Pottawatomie County.

Bayless was previously employed at the parks and recreation department as a recreation supervisor, from 2018 to this year. Prior to that, he worked as a recreation center supervisor in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

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