UPDATE: Aiken man accused of possessing, distributing child pornography

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News 12 at 11 o'clock / Wednesday, June 5, 2013

AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW) -- An Aiken man is behind bars, charged with more than 20 counts of child pornography.

Ron Gardner is accused of possessing and distributing child porn on his computer.

On Wednesday, he turned himself into investigators.

"I'm just perplexed I couldn't believe that," said his neighbor, 17-year-old James Bryant.

"I'm in shock," added James' mother, Anna.

They say they still can't believe the man who lives just four doors down is in jail.

"This is like a nice, nice neighborhood, and it's always quiet, people always nice and you never expect nothing like that. Never," Anna said.

It began with an undercover investigation in April leading to the man who lives in this house.

"He kept it pretty well hidden," James said. "You couldn't really tell. He didn't do anything out of the ordinary."

Gardner was arrested after officers used a search warrant at the home. He is now charged with 20 counts of possessing child porn and two counts of distributing it.

"Possession part, I know some people have a problem, and they don't know what they're looking at, but if they're actually redistributing it to other people, it's obviously an intent," said Tim Mansell.

He and his daughter, Heidi Wiser, live across the street from the Gardner home.

"It's a little upsetting," Mansell said. "My grandchildren spend a lot of time here. I have seven of them."

"As a mother, it makes you sick," Wiser said. "Physically ill, pretty much."

They didn't know Gardner personally, but say he was known in the neighborhood as the man who decorated his house for every holiday. Flags out now for Fourth of July, blowups for Christmas and a haunted house for Halloween.

"Looking back now, it makes it a little more creepy," Wiser said.

James used to help his neighbor out in the haunted house.

"I'm just surprised this happened really. I didn't know this whole time because he's been around here a long time," James said.

The Sheriff's Office says the investigation began when two video files were downloaded.

They say everything was electronic. He did not take any photos and had no personal connection to or contact with any of the children in the photos.

People in his neighborhood are not considered possible victims, and they do not expect any local victims to step forward.

Initial report:

AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WRDW) -- An Aiken man is behind bars charged with 20 counts of third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor.

Ronald Gardner is also charged with two counts of second-degree sexual exploitation of a minor.

Investigators say Gardner is accused of having child pornography in his possession and distributing it.

Capt. Eric Abdullah with the Aiken County Sheriff's Office says Gardner did not have a personal connection to or contact with any of the children in the photos.

Investigators executed a search of his home before issuing arrest warrants. The investigation began in April.

Gardner turned himself in on Wednesday. He is being held at the Aiken County Detention Center.

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