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Moorhead hockey player accused of making child sex video vows to fight charge

MOORHEAD – A Moorhead junior hockey player accused of distributing a video he and another player allegedly made of him having sex with an underage girl vowed Thursday to fight the child pornography charges he faces.  

Thomas Ryan Carey, 19, made his first appearance Thursday in Clay County District Court, where he is charged with use of a minor in a sexual performance as well as possession and distribution of child pornography, all felonies.

Carey was released on his own recognizance, meaning Judge Steven Cahill didn’t require him to be booked in jail and post bail if he wanted to be released.

Court documents allege Carey and another player with the Lincoln Stars, Brandon Nicholas Smith, 19, of Castaic, Calif., taped Carey having sex with a 15-year-old girl in their hotel room after a game the Stars played in Fargo against the Fargo Force on Feb. 14.

The girl reported the incident to her mother later in the month after she began to receive messages from people making reference to the video.

The alleged victim told Moorhead police she contacted both men and told them to send her the images and then delete them. She believed Smith, who’d been in the room with her and Carey, was the one who’d made the video, she told police.

A detective who searched the phone found a screen shot of her and Carey, as well as a sexually explicit nude image of her with a male body part.

Part of the terms of Carey’s release set by Cahill prohibit him from having contact with the girl.

The 15-year-old is not being identified because she is a juvenile and because The Forum typically does not identify victims in alleged sexual crimes.

Carey’s attorney, Bruce Quick, said the legal statutes in the case are being misused by prosecutors. He said Carey plans to fight the charges vigorously.

“You will note what charges have not been brought,” in the case, said Quick, who wouldn’t specify what unfiled charges he was referencing.

Charging documents in the case say both men told Moorhead investigators the girl consented to being taped with Carey, though Minnesota law states that neither consent nor a mistake about a victim’s age are defenses against a charge of using a minor in a sexual performance.

Using a minor in a sexual performance is the most serious of the three charges Carey and Smith face, with a maximum penalty upon conviction of 10 years in prison. Minnesota sentencing guidelines, however, call for probation and a stayed prison term between two and four years for offenders with little or no criminal histories.

Quick said Carey was “very upset” at the charges.

“He’s a very, very nice young man – very nice family. I think that’ll be apparent as the case goes forward,” he said.

Smith’s first appearance in court is set for July 29.

When the charges were filed last month, the Lincoln Stars, in a statement, said both players had been suspended for violating the U.S. Hockey League Code of Conduct.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Emily Welker at (701) 241-5541