Phenix man faces multiple charges, linked to child porn

A Phenix man is in jail today, facing multiple charges in connection with child pornography and possession of obscene items. According to the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office, 45-year-old Stephen Darrell Hatcher Jr. was arrested on Friday, April 5 and charged as part of an ongoing investigation. Hatcher, who is being held without bond at the Charlotte County Jail, was indicted on 23 counts of felony Possession of Child Pornography and 53 counts of felony Possession of Obscene Items Depicting a Person Engaged in Sexual Contact with an Animal. 

“Investigations involving the exploitation of children are particularly disturbing” said Charlotte County Sheriff J.R. Grissom in a statement to media. “Our office and our law enforcement partners work diligently to protect these children and hold those that exploit them accountable.”

Grissom also pointed out that a criminal indictment is a charge. Defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law. 

Grissom added however that he was thankful for both the continued work of his office’s investigators and the local Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, who are working on the case. He also thanked other law enforcement partners in the region, who are helping with the investigation. 

The Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office took the case before a grand jury on Wednesday, April 3. To explain, when evidence is given to a grand jury, they have two options. The first is to decide the prosecution has enough evidence to show probable cause in a case. At that point, the grand jury issues a “true bill”, which indicts the defendant. If the grand jury doesn’t feel the prosecution has enough evidence, they issue a “no bill” and prosecutors have to drop charges. In this case, the grand jury issued a “true bill”, which led to deputies later arresting Hatcher. 

Phenix man in court this coming week

Hatcher will spend a couple days in court this coming week. A hearing to decide if he should be allowed bond is scheduled for Wednesday, April 10, beginning at 9:30 a.m. in Charlotte Circuit Court. One day before that, he’s scheduled to appear in Charlotte Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, facing an unrelated charge. He’s accused of violating a protective order, a case which has been continued four different times before being set for a 10 a.m. start in Charlotte Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court on Tuesday, April 9.

Sheriff Grissom said anyone with information on suspected child sexual exploitation is asked to contact the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office at 434-542-5141 or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 800-843-5678.