The alleged former leader of a white-supremacist group accused of threatening journalists and activists was also involved in sharing child pornography, federal prosecutors alleged Friday.
Denton and four other alleged members were arrested earlier this month.
Two co-conspirators have told investigators that Denton “scanned and sent photos” of a 16-year-old girl dating another white supremacist, Assistant U.S. Attorney Carina Cuellar said in court. She said they also told law enforcement officials that Denton was “trading child pornography back and forth” with another individual and had a folder of the material on his computer.
She said a search of Denton’s devices by investigators in Texas was not complete.
Denton’s attorney, Andrew Stewart, described the allegations as “unsubstantiated” and emphasized that his client has not been charged with any child-pornography-related counts.
Stewart argued that Denton could safely be released to the custody of family in Texas or a woman in Maryland whom he had met on Facebook. Stewart said there were media reports that his client had left the group after the alleged 2018 threats and “a track record of Mr. Denton not being involved in this dangerous conduct.”
Cuellar countered that only two months before his arrest, Denton talked with an undercover agent about committing cyberattacks on major companies and said that if he were arrested it would “be good for Atomwaffen . . . because it’s a serious felony.”
“He was still a member of Atomwaffen,” she said. “He has not withdrawn.”
Judge Theresa Carroll Buchanan agreed with prosecutors and declined to release Denton, calling his conduct “very concerning.”
Stewart declined to comment after court on whether Denton is a member of Atomwaffen. Denton’s father and grandfather also declined to comment.
If he is charged, Denton will not be the first person investigated for possible domestic terrorism links to face child exploitation counts. Benjamin Bogard was convicted in Texas last year and sentenced to more than six years in prison for possession of child pornography. James Mason, a neo-Nazi highly influential in Atomwaffen, also has a criminal child pornography record.
In Atomwaffen chat rooms, according to prosecutors, Denton went by the nickname “Rape.” He is accused of organizing a threatening campaign against a ProPublica reporter who had named him and other Atomwaffen members. Fake threats were called in to ProPublica’s New York office and the reporter’s home. Such threats are called “swatting,” because the goal is to provoke an overwhelming police response that includes a SWAT team.
Prosecutors say the group also called in threats to a historically black church in Alexandria, the home of former Department of Homeland Security head Kirstjen Nielsen, and a black journalist for the Miami Herald.
Another alleged member, John William Kirby Kelley, also faces charges in Alexandria.
Prosecutors in Seattle say other Atomwaffen members plotted to leave violent neo-Nazi posters at the homes of journalists and activists.