The region's high-tech crime team spent most of Wednesday in Ashland tracking down two men accused of downloading numerous images and videos of child pornography.

The region's high-tech crime team spent most of Wednesday in Ashland tracking down two men accused of downloading numerous images and videos of child pornography.

The first case involved a homeless man suspected of poaching wireless hot spots to download pictures and videos showing the rape of prepubescent children, according to Central Point police Lt. Josh Moulin, the Southern Oregon High-Tech Crimes Task Force supervisor.

The task force was made aware of the downloads in December by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Moulin's team then began tracking the source to several businesses in Ashland that offer unsecured wireless Internet to customers.

Eventually, the task force was able to connect the downloads to Thomas William Crimmins, 53, a transient who camps out above Park Street in Ashland, Moulin said.

"We believe Crimmins' online account was responsible for distributing these images," Moulin said. "We have no reason to suspect the images involved local children."

Police located Crimmins Wednesday at the Ashland library and arrested him on five counts of first-degree encouraging child sexual abuse and five counts of second-degree encouraging child sexual abuse.

Officers searched Crimmins' computer and will complete the digital forensics in a few weeks, Moulin said.

"We expect to find additional evidence against Crimmins," Moulin said. "We probably will return before a grand jury for additional charges in the near future."

In a 2008 interview for a story about a rally to end homelessness in Ashland, Crimmins told the Daily Tidings that he graduated from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash., in 1979 with a degree in mathematics.

According to Jackson County Circuit Court records, Crimmins is a registered sex offender. He was arrested in 2003 for failure to register as a sex offender.

Crimmins remained lodged in the Jackson County Jail late Wednesday on $250,000 bail.

Moulin said the case is a good reminder that those with wireless Internet should secure their connection with passwords.

"If you don't secure your system, anyone can use it to download child pornography," Moulin said.

Meanwhile, the task force made its way across town to another child pornography case that was unrelated to Crimmins.

Task force members conducted an undercover online investigation in November to find people in Southern Oregon who were involved with the sexual exploitation of children.

This investigation led them to suspect that child porn was being downloaded in a house in the 500 block of Walnut Street in Ashland.

A search of the house turned up digital evidence that was found to contain images of children being sexually abused, Moulin said.

Police arrested David Paul Cassidy, 56, and charged him with 10 counts of first-degree encouraging child sex abuse and 10 counts of second-degree encouraging child sex abuse.

Again, Moulin believes the images did not involve local children.

Cassidy was lodged in jail, where he remained late Thursday on $500,000 bail.

Chris Conrad is a reporter for the Mail Tribune. Reach him at 541-776-4471; or email cconrad@mailtribune.com.