A member of the New Braunfels Police Department is sitting in a Guadalupe County Jail cell, arrested Monday by Texas Rangers and charged with possession of child pornography.
NBPD officials said Jacob Pullen, a lieutenant with the police department, was placed on paid administrative leave on Nov. 14 after the department was made aware of the investigation.
“This has been a complete shock for us,” New Braunfels Police Chief Tom Wibert said Monday afternoon. “Just the fact that this happened — it’s not the Lieutenant Jacob Pullen that we know.”
Pullen was hired by the department in May 2006. Wibert said the department has been fully cooperating with the investigation by the Texas Rangers and the Department of Homeland Security. Pullen was arrested Monday and transported to Guadalupe County Jail, where he was charged with possession or promotion of child pornography, a third-degree felony. He remained jailed there Monday afternoon under $100,000 bond.
In Austin, the Texas Department of Public Safety’s media office, which oversees information on Texas Rangers operations, could not provide specifics on Pullen’s arrest — when and where it happened, whether the charge was state or federal, or if other agencies were involved.
Pullen’s arrest affidavit, filed by a Ranger, indicated a Homeland Security agent informed the agency that its New York Child Exploitation Investigations Unit began investigating widespread online distribution of child pornography on dark websites throughout the country.
The dark web is encrypted online content that’s not indexed by conventional search engines like Google — with content only accessible through specialized software — and doesn’t appear through regular internet browsing activity.
The affidavit identifies one site, as an exclusive, members-only child porn website promoting itself as “featuring the largest collection of user submitted teen videos and pictures.”
Its splash page — what the user sees first before being given the option to continue to the main content of the site — required payment.
The Rangers’ affidavit said the agent “personally reviewed the splash page and observed seven images of nude girls, appearing to be approximately 10-15 years old, engaged in various sexual acts individually and with men.”
According to the affidavit, Pullen’s public address was identified as using Bitcoin, a digital currency, to purchase membership to the site “on or about July 2, 2019.” Further investigation indicated similar payments traced to his online address and later his home.
The affidavit said Pullen denied “accessing child pornography or making any purchases through the dark web.”
A search warrant led to seizures of several devices from Pullen’s residence and office, including a TOR browser “needed to access the dark web,” the affidavit stated, adding none of the applications found on the devices were typically used by other occupants at his home.
NBPD officials said there’s no evidence that police equipment was used in connection with the criminal charge.
Under the state’s civil service act, a felony indictment would allow for an officer’s suspension without pay while a final conviction of a felony “shall be the basis for dismissal without notice or further proceedings.”