Totten case continued, prosecution gathering evidence

Chrisman man charged with possession of illicit videos returns to court in August


Publisher’s Note: This article includes courtroom testimony and evidence referencing sexual exploitation carried out against minors. Reader discretion is advised.

A Chrisman resident facing a pair of Class 2 Felonies appeared before Judge David W. Lewis in the Edgar County Courthouse on Monday, May 20. After the defense deferred to the prosecution, State’s Attorney Philip Dobelstein asked for the case to be continued while the state gathers additional evidence.

“(The prosecution is) working on getting a little more information from the agent leading the investigation,” Dobelstein explained.

Lewis agreed to continue the case to 1:45 p.m., Monday, Aug. 12 for a pre-trial conference in courtroom two.

The defendant, Joseph B. Totten, was arrested on Dec. 13, 2023, and charged with two counts of possession of child pornography. A search warrant was issued after the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) received an alert that a Google account linked to Edgar County was storing several pieces of media depicting the sexual exploitation of minors.

Illinois State Police (ISP) Special Agent Chad Carlson explained the items in question, two videos involving what he identified as prepubescent girls, could have ended up on the Google account in several ways.

“Essentially, sometimes users can set Google accounts so that their photographs on their mobile device can automatically upload into their Google account so that they don't lose it,” he explained in a previous hearing. “Google also allows you to also pick and choose which images or video files you want to upload. So, I'm not sure whether the person actually initiated the upload themselves, or whether it just automatically uploaded because that's what (the account) was set up to do.”

The account in question was linked to Totten through two email addresses, linked devices, personal photographs, billing records and more.

If convicted, Totten could receive a prison sentence of three to seven years for each illegal item in his possession and would be added to the Illinois Sex Offender Registry.

The public is reminded that all people arrested, or otherwise charged, are presumed innocent until proven guilty in court.

Totten, case, trial, Chrisman