New charges filed in case involving child pornography, bizarre extortion attempt

Charges filed this week reveal more details on a 2014 case in southern Platte County that involves an elderly man suspected of possessing child pornography and a computer repairman who attempted to extort him after discovering the files. Richard W. Harrison, 43, of Kansas City, Mo. stands charged with one felony for theft and and a misdemeanor failing to report a child filmed a sex act. Those charges came in Tuesday, Sept. 29, about 17 months after he allegedly attempted an extortion of Richard Rasmussen, 79.

Rasmussen, who lived at 6900 NW Searcy Dr. in a rural area near Parkville, Mo., filed a report late in May of 2014 after he received a threatening letter demanding $5,000. The letter claimed knowledge of child pornography on Rasmussen’s computer, and without payment, the sender threatened to post information about the files in Rasmussen’s neighborhood.

Investigators traced the address listed for payment to a box in Mission, Kan. belonging to Harrison. When asked about his relationship to Harrison, Rasmussen recognized him as a computer repairman working for “Geeks on Site” and that he had been to his residence to work on computers.

Rasmussen claimed he made an offhand comment about pornography on the computers and said that Harrison’s demeanor changed.

During the investigation, Rasmussen received two more threatening letters — the second containing an example of a poster to be put in his neighborhood if payment was not received. The poster called Rasmussen a pedophile and contained a picture of two nude boys. An enclosed photograph of Rasmussen’s yard had a message on it saying, “You think this is a game? That you at the door? Seems that it is. Send it pervert.”

Rasmussen did not send any funds to the address.

The delay in charges filed against Harrison came at a request for a lengthier investigation from the Platte County Prosecutor’s Office, according to Platte County prosecutor Eric Zahnd. The charges are a way to try and prove that Harrison attempted to extort Rasmussen and for observing and not reporting the pornography contained on his computer.

However, about two months after the investigation started, authorities served a warrant at Rasmussen’s residence, and he readily admitted to having child pornography in his possession, according to court documents. Authorities found nearly 1,500 images and nearly 100 videos of suspected child pornography on 10 3.5-inch hard disks, and his two computers, sent to Heart of America Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory for inspection containing more than 1,000 images and 86 videos containing child pornography, along with evidence of a suspect internet search history.

Rasmussen admitted in an interview with authorities that he “gets bored sitting at his home” so he looks at child pornography. He told investigators the nature of what they would find on his computer and doesn’t believe anyone should be able to tell him what he can and can’t view on his computer.

In October of 2014, the Platte County Prosecutor’s Office charged Rasmussen with a Class B felony for possession of child pornography. He remains free on a $50,000 cash-only bond.

Harrison has not been booked into the Platte County Detention Center at this time, and a search of active warrants in the Platte County Sheriff’s Office system did not return any results for him.