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Ex-Montana Police Chief — And Magician — Pleads Guilty To Distributing Child Pornography On Facebook

Former East Helena Police Chief William Daly Harrington, who also worked as a “G-rated” event magician, admitted to repeatedly sharing child sexual abuse images on Facebook messenger with a romantic interest.

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A former Montana police chief, who also performed as a stage magician, has pleaded guilty to distributing child pornography online, according to federal prosecutors.

William Daly Harrington, 43, confessed to sharing pornographic images of minors on his Facebook Messenger account, according to a plea agreement obtained by Oxygen.com.

In September 2020, Harrington came under scrutiny after a deputy for the Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s Offices followed up on a tip that a Facebook Messenger account associated with the police chief had disseminated child porn in correspondence with another account.

Harrington, who used a “fictitious” Facebook profile — and the pseudonym “Stella Carlson” — to send images of minors engaged in sexual acts, was caught after investigators linked the email associated with the fake account to an entertainment company Harrington owned. At the time, Harrington, who served as East Helena’s Police Chief, and also performed at events as a stage magician, owned “Magic Man’s Mobile Dj,” charging documents show.

The East Helena police chief’s birthday also matched the birthday listed on the fake profile.

In November 2019, Harrington sent a total of 11 pornographic images to a woman named Brandy Spangler, whom investigators learned the police chief was having a romantic relationship with. 

“Some of those images depicted child pornography as defined by federal law in that they depict young teen females exposing their pubic area in a lewd and lascivious manner,” separate court documents obtained by Oxygen.com stated.

Months later, Harrington allegedly sent 28 more pornographic videos and pictures to Spangler. Several contained minor victims, as well as others in their early teens, in sexually explicit poses, according to law enforcement. Some of the victims had braces and “underdeveloped breasts,” the complaint alleged.

Harrington’s home was raided by law enforcement during the execution of a search warrant on Jan. 27, 2021. Investigators discovered additional child pornographic content on the ex-police official’s Samsung Galaxy S10, which was seized by law enforcement’s search of his property. Some images found on Harrington’s phone matched the messages sent from the Facebook account he was using.

“The examiner determined the defendant had visited and searched websites that were consistent with a user seeking child pornography,” court documents added.

Under questioning, Harrington admitted to sending child porn to Spangler. He told detectives he and Spangler watched “a lot of porn together.” Harrington,  also described Spangler as “sexually free.”

The 43-year-old, who was indicted in June, was terminated by the East Helena Police Department earlier this year. Harrington had held the department’s top position since April 2019.

The East Helena Police Department declined to comment on Harrington's case on Thursday afternoon.

Mayor James Schell, who said city officials were "caught off guard" by the police chief's scandal, said he only learned of the allegations after charges were filed in May. He described Harrington's actions as "atrocious."

"The City of East Helena is a pleased that another chapter in this story is closed," Schell said in a statement sent to Oxygen.com. "This type of crime and other similar offenses are not victimless and our thoughts are with Mr. Harrington's victims. The identification, investigation, and prosecution of those who are involved in these types of crimes are of paramount importance."

Harrington’s sentencing is scheduled for April 13, 2022. 

The disgraced former police chief faces a mandatory minimum of five years to 20 years behind bars, as well as lifetime of supervised release and a $250,000 fine, court documents show.

Harrington, who practiced magic as a professional hobby, reportedly performed illusions at a wide spectrum of local events in southwest Montana. He described his magic company services as "'G' or 'PG rated" and "customizable for all age groups," according to an online events classifieds site advertising his services. 

"I perform 'walk around' close-up magic for nearly any type of event you can think of including: cocktail parties, formal dinners (magical entertainment right at your table or gathering), restaurants, birthday parties, company meetings / parties, etc.," Harrington purportedly wrote in the ad.

Caitlin Boland Aarab, Harrington’s defense attorney, didn’t return Oxygen.com’s phone calls and emails on Thursday requesting comment. 

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