DA: Viral video suspect case 'kind that gives parents nightmares'

DA: Viral video suspect case 'kind that gives parents nightmares'
Tonya Moore. (Source: Elmore County jail)
Tonya Moore. (Source: Elmore County jail)
Authorities served a search warrant at Germaine Moore's house in Millbrook, AL Monday afternoon. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
Authorities served a search warrant at Germaine Moore's house in Millbrook, AL Monday afternoon. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
Tonya Moore in court Tuesday. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
Tonya Moore in court Tuesday. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
Alabama law enforcement gave an update on the case Tuesday afternoon. (Source: Alabama Law Enforcement Agency)
Alabama law enforcement gave an update on the case Tuesday afternoon. (Source: Alabama Law Enforcement Agency)

ELMORE COUNTY, AL (WSFA) - A Millbrook, Alabama man suspected of sexually assaulting a child in a video that went viral on social media was taken into custody Tuesday.

Germaine Moore, 44, turned himself in to Millbrook police at 3:30 a.m., authorities said. He has felony warrants in Detroit, Michigan. Alabama is expected to file charges against him Wednesday.

The Wayne County, Michigan, Prosecutor's Office alleges Moore sexually assaulted three relatives. In Michigan, Moore is charged with four counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, two counts of child sexually abusive activity, one count of using a computer to commit a crime and one count of distributing sexually explicit material of children.

According to a statement from Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Maria Miller, Germaine Moore is accused of sexually assaulting the children at his mother's home in Detroit and at his home in Alabama.

Moore is the children's relative, and they were reportedly in his care from 2011 until 2017 while their mother worked. The children are now 9, 10 and 12 years old, according to the prosecutor's office.

Authorities in Alabama started investigating on Jan. 31 when multiple law enforcement agencies were alerted to a video showing the sexual assault of a child on social media, said Lt. Brooke Walker, commander of the Alabama State Bureau of Investigation Special Victims Unit.

Walker said it became apparent during the investigation that the video had a strong connection to the Montgomery area. She said leads started pouring in from across the world as the video spread on social media.

Law enforcement agencies across the country issued warnings to anyone who received the video to report it through social media and delete it immediately. Facebook is working to remove the video and is working with law enforcement in this case.

Investigators in Alabama say the girl in the viral video has been located and is safe. It's unclear when and where the video was taken, but Elmore County District Attorney Randall Houston said it's believed the girl in the video was 6 years old at the time it was recorded.

Walker said some time has passed since the video was recorded, and investigators are working to determine a timeline in this case.

Authorities served a search warrant at Germaine Moore's home on Magnolia Loop in Millbrook Monday, and investigators seized several pieces of technology. They are working to determine if the devices contain any illicit material.

"I can tell you with multiple live victims in a case like this we're working with other agencies and trying to make sure that we're protecting other children out there. We're working it. It's a priority," Walker said.

Law enforcement also took Moore's wife, Tonya Moore, into custody at the home. She is charged with interfering with prosecution.

Walker said Tonya Moore wasn't cooperative with helping locate Germaine Moore Monday and tried to help him flee. Tonya Moore appeared in court in Elmore County Tuesday, and her bond was set at $35,000.

After waiting hours for Germaine Moore to return home Monday, officials asked for the public's assistance in locating him Monday night. Investigators said they believed Moore was a flight risk and needed to be brought into custody.

He turned himself into the Elmore County Detention Facility without incident early Tuesday morning.

At a news conference Tuesday, officials gave an update on the status of the investigation. Randall Houston, the district attorney for Elmore, Autauga, and Chilton counties, said they are coordinating with authorities in Michigan to bring justice in the case.

Houston said it is too early to say where Moore will end up for prosecution. He said he will work with Michigan to determine which state has the best case against Germaine Moore.

"I promise the people of Elmore County and the people of state of Alabama that this office, along as the law enforcement officers behind me and the ones that have been working with us, I promise you that we will do everything in our power to ensure that this defendant, if found guilty, is incarcerated for as long as humanely possible," Houston said.

Houston said these are the kinds of cases that give parents nightmares.

"These are the things that cause parents to wonder what boogeymen are under the bed," he said.

Houston also said anyone who has had contact with Moore, or whose children have come into contact with Moore, should reach out to authorities.

"The making of the video itself is a crime, distributing it is a crime, and they're very bad crimes don't get me wrong, but the worst crime is having a sexual encounter with a then what we believe to be 6-year-old child, that's the worst thing," Houston said.

At the news conference, Walker said there are signs to look for if parents believe their child has been abused. The children might act withdrawn, or their ordinary behavior may change, or they may become possessive of the device they use to look at social media, as that may be how they are communicating with their abuser.

"Children typically don't tell us," Walker said, referring to how child victims respond to abuse. "They don't say things like adults do, and that's the important thing to remember because they aren't going to come and tell you like you and I would have a conversation, if something uncomfortable happened to them. They're going to tell you in their words and those are the indicators you need to be very responsive to."

The Montgomery Police Department arrested and charged a man Monday with one count each of possession and dissemination of child pornography in connection with the video.

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