Suspect facing child porn charges was out on bond for similar activity

Armon "Lee" Tillery

When 48-year-old Armon “Lee” Tillery was arrested and charged with 18 counts of felony criminal activity, including possession and promotion of child pornography, on Wednesday, Nov. 1, following a grand jury indictment, it wasn’t the first time this year the laid-off welder was arrested on suspicion of lewd behavior with children.

In fact, Tillery has been out of jail on bond since February for separate criminal charges alleging the sale, distribution or display of harmful material to a minor.

According to a probable cause affidavit filed two days after Christmas 2016, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office was alerted to possible criminal activity at Tillery’s Highway 124 home by two young girls who were staying the night at the residence in October 2016, one of the girls being the child of the suspect’s live-in girlfriend at the time.

The girls, age 12 and 13, were in the teen’s bedroom “when Lee Tillery came into the room to talk with the girls,” JCSO Detective Tiffany Sanders wrote in the 2016 affidavit for arrest. “Both girls state that Lee Tillery showed them a series of pictures of a naked woman that was on his phone. One child described one of the photographs as a ‘spread open vagina.’”

Tillery’s girlfriend “yelled at Tillery and told him he was wrong and not to do it again,” Sanders reported, but the visiting girl’s mother wanted to pursue the charges that led to his arrest in February – exactly four months after the alleged incident took place.

By Feb. 22, 2017, Detective Sanders wrote in a subsequently-filed probable cause affidavit, Tillery was not only using his phone to show pictures of naked women to young girls, he was soliciting nudes of the youths themselves as well as trying to coerce the teenage daughter of his live-in girlfriend to have sex with him for “100 dollars every time.”

The now former girlfriend told Sanders that she and Tillery broke up and she moved out of his home in March 2017. At that time, her daughter confided to her mother that while they lived with Tillery, he “pressured her to send him nude pictures of her, sent pictures of his exposed penis to her, and offered her $100 for sex, all via text message,” Sanders reported.

“The child agreed to send the pictures but said no to the sex,” according to Sanders and the text message evidence the investigator was able to retrieve from Tillery’s cell phone service provider. “Tillery’s response was to increase the amount to $150. The child again said no and shortly thereafter both (the girlfriend) and her daughter were kicked out of Tillery’s home and he took back the phone he had been texting the child on.”

When Sanders obtained a warrant to search Tillery’s phone, four photos of the child were found still on the device, Sanders stated in April.

Months later, on Nov. 1, a Jefferson County Grand Jury indicted Tillery on one charge of attempting to compel prostitution, four charges of possession with intent to promote child pornography, six charges of possession of child pornography and seven charges of online solicitation of a minor. The suspect was taken into custody within an hour of the indictments, and bond was set on each of the 18 offenses at $100,000.

Those who know Tillery knew he had been going to court since February for what he said were trumped-up charges that were without a doubt not true. A close friend of Tillery’s told The Examiner that the suspect tried to brush off the 2016 allegation, saying that, “a girl looked over his shoulder and saw nude photos.” But even before the recent indictments, the pending 2016 criminal case and the fact that Tillery was on bond for charges related to inappropriate activity with a minor were enough to make the friend apprehensive about leaving him alone with young girls in their family. When it was learned Tillery gave expensive gifts to a young girl related to the friend and tried to solicit a picture from the youth, a warning was forth-coming about the “super friendly” Tillery.

“I told her to make sure she was never alone with him. Period.”

As far as they know, the friend’s related child was not harmed. However, that doesn’t stem the disdain they feel for someone they were once close to should the allegations in the indictments be true.

“I hope he rots in prison if he’s guilty,” they said. “It absolutely repulses me to know these people are out there. It’s sick.”

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