BARRE — A Montpelier woman has been sentenced to a year behind bars for her role in distributing child pornography and sexually exploiting a child.

Marissa Twitchell, 35, pleaded no contest Friday in Washington County criminal court in Barre to a felony count of cruelty to a child by subjecting them to sexual conduct.

Twitchell was sentenced to three to 10 years, all suspended except for one year to serve. She was placed on probation for 10 years.

The state dismissed felony counts of lewd and lascivious conduct with a child, sexual exploitation of a child and sexual exploitation of a child with adult consent, per the plea agreement.

Washington County State’s Attorney Rory Thibault said Monday the state came to the agreement so that the victim wouldn’t have to testify at trial.

Paul Richards, 34, is facing in federal court a felony count of sexual exploitation of a child and two felony counts of knowingly distributing child pornography. If convicted, Richards faces a maximum sentence of 70 years in prison. He pleaded not guilty in July and is currently in the custody of the U.S. Marshals.

Special Agent Mark Emmons, of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, said in his affidavit the FBI received a tip at the end of May from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reporting a Snapchat user was distributing child pornography involving an underage girl in Montpelier. Snapchat is a social media platform where users can send and receive text, photos and video. Emmons said the report from the tipline showed 18 images and five videos had been uploaded by the account and some of that included child porn.

Emmons said a witness reported to Snapchat the user who was uploading the child porn claimed to have been abusing a 9-year-old girl and sent the witness child porn.

An FBI analyst noted what was uploaded from the account appeared to be newly produced because the content was first reported in May 2019, according to court records. Emmons said the content included nude photos of the girl as well as images and videos of the girl engaged in sex acts.

Emmons said an investigation showed the account had been created on May 20 and the IP address connected to the account belonged to Comcast. After subpoenaing Comcast, he said the FBI learned the account was created from an IP address on Barre Street in Montpelier.

The IP address belonged to Twitchell’s residence and the victim was her family member, according to court records.

A search warrant was executed on the home June 11 and inside investigators said they found items that were seen in the child porn that was produced.

Emmons said Twitchell reported she didn’t use Snapchat. She told investigators she had been in a relationship with Richards that had ended about two weeks prior. Emmons said Twitchell later admitted she knew Richards had taken pictures of the victim unclothed.

He said the FBI then conducted a search warrant on Richards’ home where again investigators found more items that appeared in the child porn.

Emmons said investigators spoke to the victim who confirmed Richards had taken the photos and video of her.

eric.blaisdell @timesargus.com

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