YOUNGSTOWN - Investigators say a city man who is a registered sex offender sent pictures of himself engaged in sex acts with a young female relative to an undercover FBI agent.
Christopher Cavna, 26, 733 Mahoning Ave., pleaded not guilty at his initial appearance in U.S. Northern District Court in Youngstown after federal agents charged him Wednesday. He is accused of sexually exploiting children and is facing up to 30 years in prison.
His case was bound over to a federal grand jury that will decide the exact charges that are pursued.
Mahoning County prosecutors are conferring with federal counterparts to see if they can pursue rape and other sex charges against Cavna based on the FBI's evidence.
Cavna is being held without bond at the Northeast Ohio Correction Center on Hubbard Road.
Cavna, according to a search of court records, was convicted in Cuyahoga County of several counts of downloading child pornography in 2010. He was convicted of pandering sexually oriented matter involving a minor in January 2011, the affidavit states. He was classified as a Tier II sex offender, meaning he was ordered to register with his resident county sheriff's office every 180 days for 25 years.
This week Cavna, according to FBI agents, admitted to agents that he used the girl's hands for his sexual gratification for about one year and that he photographed at least one of those incidents with his cell phone.
An FBI affidavit for Cavna's arrest says the bureau's Child Exploitation-Human Trafficking Task Force based in Washington, D.C., started the undercover investigation on an unidentified Internet forum. Agents exchanged text messages, emails and photo messages with Cavna, the affidavit states.
The affidavit describes three images sent by Cavna to an agent on Monday, including a male engaged in a sex act with what appears to be a prepubescent girl; one of a close-up picture of the girl's genitals; and one of her wearing a T-shirt and underwear.
Although Cavna denied to agents that the first two images depict a relative, the affidavit states that Cavna identified the images as being his relative to the agent receiving the text messages from Cavna's cell phone on Monday.
Also on Monday, Cavna sent an instant message to the agent with a picture of the girl holding up a piece of paper that read "hi john," the affidavit states.
On Tuesday, forensic analysts found other pictures investigators believe are of the girl taken inside Cavna's home. In one instance, the girl was photographed naked in a sexualized position in the basement shower area of Cavna's residence.
WYTV 33 News contributed to this story.