BENTON — Two men connected to an ongoing child pornography and sexual assault investigation appeared Thursday in Franklin County Court.

Defense attorney Nick Brown appeared for Joseph A. Ryker, who is out on bail, and told Judge Thomas Tedeschi when asked the status of the case that discovery was ongoing. The two also briefly discussed a motion Tedeschi approved on Sept. 14 allowing the state crime lab to test DNA samples. The order indicated that the samples would likely be consumed as a result of the tests.

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Joseph Ryker

Ryker

Ryker was arrested in April on multiple counts of child sexual abuse as well as grooming and indecent solicitation of a minor.

According to the information sheet in Ryker’s court file, he is charged with multiple counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child between 13 and 17 years of age. The court alleges that Ryker orally and anally penetrated an unidentified minor between November 2016 and March of this year. Aggravated sexual abuse of a child is a Class 2 Felony.

The state is also charging Ryker with grooming and indecent solicitation of a minor for sending illicit messages to the victim via Facebook, a Class 4 felony.

Listed in the people’s discovery were multiple items retrieved from Ryker’s possession, including bedding, computers and a video identified in the document as child pornography.

Michael Hobbs also appeared in court Thursday for a pretrial conference. Thomas Mansfield represented Hobbs. He told the court that his client would need another 60 days to prepare as there was evidence at the state’s attorney’s office that needed to be reviewed.

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Michael Hobbs

Hobbs

Hobbs is charged with multiple counts of child pornography. According to the information sheet in Hobbs’ court file, the court alleges that Hobbs “knowingly used a child … under the age of 18 year to appear in a video tape or moving depiction by computer in which (the child) was depicted while engaged in the act of sexual penetration with the defendant.” Both child pornography charges allege that Hobbs orally penetrated the victim. Both are Class X felonies.

He is also charged with multiple counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child, as well as grooming. The state alleges that Hobbs used the social media site Grindr — which advertises itself as as social networking site for gay, bisexual, "curious" and "queer" men — to seduce his underage victim. Grooming is a Class 4 felony.

The state alleges that Hobbs’ activity occurred between October 2016 and April of this year.

Franklin County Sheriff Don Jones said Hobbs' and Ryker's cases are connected as they both share a victim in common. Jones said he was not sure if there would be further arrests related to the same case, as the investigation was ongoing.

Ryker is scheduled to appear in court again at 1:30 p.m. Dec. 7, while Hobbs will return at 1:30 p.m. Dec. 14.

isaac.smith@thesouthern.com

618-351-5823

On Twitter: @ismithreports

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