Crime and Justice

Youth organization founder facing new child sexual abuse charges

Southern State Correctional Facility
Wayne Miller is being held at Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield. File photo by Elizabeth Hewitt/VTDigger

The founder of a youth mentoring organization is facing a spate of new child sexual abuse charges while continuing to be held in jail.

Wayne Miller, 34, pleaded not guilty in July to an original charge of repeated aggravated sexual abuse of a child — a felony punishable by up to 25 years to life in prison — as well as a dozen new felonies: Four counts of using a child in a sexual performance and eight counts of possession of child sexual abuse material.

Authorities allege that between June 2020 and July 2021, while living in Hartland, Miller repeatedly sexually assaulted an 18-month-old child. He is also accused of producing multiple child sexual abuse materials involving the toddler during that period.

Miller, founder and former director of a mentoring organization for Black youth in Vermont and New Hampshire, is being held without bail at Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield. 

He has been detained since his arrest on Dec. 8, the same day police searched his home in Claremont, New Hampshire, and seized several items, including cellphones and laptops.  

Police said they began investigating Miller in November 2020 after the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s CyberTipline — the country’s centralized reporting system for child exploitation online — forwarded a “cybertip” to Vermont’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. 

The tip originated from Google, whose systems detected that a user was trying to send an email containing child sexual abuse material. The suspected illegal file, which was included in the cybertip, was later traced to Miller’s account, according to court documents. 

Miller is now asking the court to throw out all the state’s evidence in his case, arguing they stemmed from police’s unlawful expansion of Google’s private search of his email.

“Beyond this initial tip-off, the State had no independent grounds upon which they were investigating Mr. Miller,” defense attorney Evan Antal said in a written motion.

Antal said Vermont Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force requested search warrants on Miller only after viewing the suspected child sexual abuse material — but no person at Google had done so right before the file was forwarded to the National Center.

In response, the Vermont Attorney General’s Office said police investigators have acted lawfully.

The prosecutor, Assistant Attorney General Sophie Stratton, said in a written motion that the task force learned nothing it didn’t already know by viewing the file from Google. The cybertip, she said, categorized the digital file as depicting a prepubescent child engaged in a sex act.

Stratton said Google’s systems flagged the file because it matched the “hash,” or digital fingerprint, of known child sexual abuse material. She said Google representatives personally review such material before adding their hash values to a repository of apparent child sexual abuse material.

The issue is waiting for a response from Judge John Treadwell, sitting in Windsor County Superior Court.

Miller had also been charged in federal court with producing child sexual abuse material. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for Vermont dismissed his case without prejudice in May, meaning it could be refiled.

When asked about the dismissal, the state Attorney General’s Office said it works closely with the U.S. Attorney’s Office on cases involving child sexual abuse and internet crimes against children.

The offices decided that the state would prosecute Miller, while the Vermont U.S. Attorney’s Office reserves the right to reinstate the federal case at any time, said Vermont Attorney General Susanne Young’s chief of staff, Lauren Jandl.

The state also dismissed a second charge of repeated aggravated sexual abuse of a child that had previously been brought against Miller, incorporating the date of the alleged offense into his updated charge of the same title.

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Tiffany Tan

About Tiffany

Tiffany Tan is VTDigger's Southern Vermont reporter. Before joining VTDigger, she covered cops and courts for the Bennington Banner from 2018 to 2021. Prior to that, Tiffany worked for the Rapid City Journal in South Dakota and spent more than 10 years working for newspapers and television stations in Manila, Singapore and Beijing.

Email: [email protected]

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