Booth arraigned for child porn, voyeurism

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — The man convicted of entering the women’s restroom at an Interstate 70 rest stop in Belmont County and recording images of people was arraigned on multiple felony counts involving child pornography this week.

James Dean Booth, 39, of 1516 N. Eighth St., Martins Ferry pleaded innocent to seven charges of illegal use of a minor in a nudity-oriented matter or performance in Belmont County Common Pleas Court on Thursday. He also pleaded innocent to two counts of voyeurism and one count of assault.

Booth’s pretrial hearing was set for July 15 with a plea agreement deadline Aug. 12 and trial Aug. 20.

Booth is already serving a 180-day jail sentence for two counts of voyeurism stemming from incidents at the restroom. He was sentenced in Belmont County Western Division Court. Common Pleas Judge Frank Fregiato did not set bond Thursday, since Booth’s jail sentence ends Sept. 1 — after his Aug. 20 trial date.

According to the Belmont County Prosecutor’s Office, Booth is accused of entering women’s public restrooms along Interstate 70 and making video recordings of women by reaching beneath the stalls. He allegedly was taking screenshots from those videos to create still images of people in the restroom.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol, Belmont County Sheriff’s Department and the Martins Ferry Police Department investigated. A search warrant was executed at his Eighth Street residence and child pornography reportedly was found.

Belmont County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Kevin Flanagan would give few details, but he said the common pleas court charges stem from allegations that Booth secretly photographed juveniles in numerous public places. Flanagan added that the two felony-level voyeurism charges are separate from the two counts he is currently serving time for. Flanagan said he was not familiar with the circumstances of the assault charge.

Belmont County Public Defender Frank Pierce asked that Booth be transferred to the Belmont County Jail so that he could more conveniently consult with him.

“The client’s being held in the Jefferson County Jail due to overflow issues in our jail,” Pierce said.

Fregiato ordered the transfer, so long as it does not interfere with the jail staff’s logistics.

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