Indiana National Guard says soldier still employed pending child exploitation charges

The Indiana National Guard issued a statement on a soldier who is facing a child exploitation charge after police say he uploaded child pornography while at Camp Atterbury.

Michael A. Pellom, 22, of Plainfield, is charged with child exploitation, a Level 4 felony. A warrant was issued for Pellom’s arrest Monday, and he was booked into the Johnson County jail Wednesday afternoon.

Pellom is an active member of the Indiana National Guard, which officials confirmed Friday morning. His alleged actions are “not in keeping with” the Army’s core values and the Indiana National Guard, officials said in a statement.

“We take these allegations very seriously and are fully cooperating with authorities,” officials said. “Due to the pending investigation, we are unable to comment further.”

Last October, an Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Detective assigned to the Indiana Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force received a cyber tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The cyber tip came from Kik, an encrypted messaging app. The tip provided evidence a user uploaded five files of child pornography in mid-August 2022, according to a probable cause affidavit filed in Johnson County Superior Court 2 Monday.

Further research showed the account was potentially using a temporary and “disposable” email address, the affidavit says.

The user’s IP address, along with five additional related IP addresses found during the investigation, showed the user was in the Indianapolis area, according to the affidavit. As detectives continued to investigate, they found a common phone number that allegedly used all five addresses: Pellom’s.

In November, detectives found another IP address associated with Pellom in the Avon area. On Dec. 1, they also called the number and a man who identified himself as Pellom answered, the affidavit says.

As part of their investigation, detectives served search warrants to Facebook and Google for any accounts associated with Pellom’s number, the affidavit shows. Information on the accounts confirmed the number was his, and a partial search of his Google account revealed no child pornography.

During an interview in late January, Pellom confirmed that the number detectives found was his, and said he was a member of the Indiana National Guard. He also gave detectives information about his Snapchat and Dropbox accounts.

After getting a search warrant for the Dropbox account, detectives found a 2022 National Guard training schedule. It showed his annual training was scheduled for August, around the time cell phone records showed his phone was in use at Camp Atterbury, the affidavit shows.

No child pornography was found on his Dropbox or Snapchat accounts. However, the Snapchat username was almost the exact same username as the Kik account that uploaded the child pornography, according to the affidavit.

Snapchat location records showed that Pellom’s device was used at Camp Atterbury about 32 minutes after the child pornography was uploaded in mid-August, leading detectives to believe the child pornography was uploaded while Pellom was there, the affidavit shows.

Around the time of his interview, IMPD detectives seized several of Pellom’s devices. A forensic search of Pellom’s cell phone uncovered dozens of cached images of child pornography. The original photos had been deleted, but small versions of them were created by the phone’s gallery app, according to the affidavit.

Detectives were not able to determine how the originals were viewed, but they were able to able to identify three of the cached images as previews of the images reported by Kik as child pornography, the affidavit says.

Pellom’s bond was set at $2,500, which he paid and was later released. An initial hearing took place Thursday afternoon.