COVINGTON, Ky. (WBKO) -- In 2016, a Kenton County Police investigation by Sgt. Chris Pittaluga and Detective Jay Downs revealed Matthew Bucher was engaged in sexual activity with a 12-year-old child.
The same investigation led to the execution of a search warrant on Bucher's residence and the seizure of electronic devices which were found to contain homemade child pornography depicting Bucher engaged in sex acts with underage victims. One of the victims was identified as a Covington resident and an additional investigation was opened by Covington Police Detective Justin Bradbury.
Bradbury's investigation revealed the then-15-year-old child met Bucher on-line. Bucher's on-line profile claimed he was 16-years-old. When confronted by the victim's family with their disbelief about his age, Bucher claimed to be 19-years-old. In fact, Bucher was 27.
Bucher took the child on dates to the zoo, museums, and out to dinner, all while pretending to be 19. Bucher engaged in sex acts with the child at an apartment in Ft. Mitchell that he shared with his mother. Shortly after the child's 16th birthday (Kentucky's legal age of consent), Bucher revealed his real age and the relationship ended. Detective Downs' forensic examination of the images on Bucher's computer depicting sex acts between Bucher and the victim confirmed the images were created before the child's 16th birthday.
The Kenton County Grand Jury indicted Bucher for 30 counts of Promoting a Sexual Performance by a Minor, 30 counts of Possession of Matter Portraying a Sexual Performance by a Minor, Rape 3rd Degree and Sodomy 3rd Degree.
The case was called for trial before Kenton Circuit Judge Patricia Summe on March 6, 2019. Asst. Commonwealth's Attorneys Emily Arnzen and Kate Homan presented testimony from the victim, the victim's mother, Detective Bradbury, Detective Downs, and Covington Police Officer Rob Linton over the course of a two day trial.
In addition, the jury was shown all 30 images of child pornography in question. At the conclusion of the trial, the jury took only 30 minutes to return verdicts of guilty on all 62 counts. After hearing additional evidence and testimony, the jury recommended Bucher serve a combined sentence of 15 years in prison. A date for formal, final sentencing is yet to be announced but should take place in April.
What the jury did not hear was any testimony or evidence about Bucher's other victims. They also did not know that a previous jury convicted Bucher of similar crimes with the original victim and sentenced him to 45 years in prison.
Under Kentucky law, sentences for sexual offenses against different child victims must run consecutively, meaning Bucher is now facing a combined total of 60 years in prison for his first two cases. Bucher has already been indicted for two more cases involving different child victims as well as another case for possessing child pornography believed to have been downloaded from the internet. Still more indictments are possible as detectives continue to identify even more victims depicted in Bucher's cache of homemade child pornography.