Ex-Austin firefighter arrested, charged with having child porn

Crime

An ex-Austin firefighter who was filmed on camera talking about buying child porn is in custody.

Erik Spalteholz, 47, was booked into the Blanco County Jail on Monday night and charged with possession of child pornography. He is currently being held on a $100,000 bond, says the Blanco County Sheriff’s Office.

AFD Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr released a statement Tuesday saying, “The allegations against Mr. Spalteholz are shocking, and most definitely not in alignment with the values of the Austin Fire Department, nor the men and women who serve the citizens of Austin every day.  We are fully cooperating with law enforcement as they conduct their investigation.” 

Spalteholz had been with the Austin Fire Department for more than two decades before he retired last week.

A search warrant was recently filed after a woman who had been in a relationship with Spalteholz posted a video on Facebook asking him how much money he wired for photographs of a child.

He replied, “I don’t know … probably over $700.”

Spalteholz continued, “Not like to do anything abusive. Not like do anything bad like that. Just take the pictures. Naked pictures. No sexual acts or anything like that.”

When she asks if he’s attracted to 3- or 4-year-old girls, the firefighter says, “No it was just kind of the excitement of actually it happening with one was more important than anything else.”

According to the search warrant, the woman had concerns Spalteholz was attracted to her own teenage daughter.

A spokesperson for AFD says on the morning of April 25, the agency received “notice of an allegation to our professional standards office.” However, before the internal investigation got started, Spalteholz retired. 

Austin Firefighters Association President Bob Nicks said, “We don’t want to be pushing things like this under the rug and act like they didn’t happen.”

A Blanco County search warrant for Spalteholz’s home, signed on Monday, talks about taking everything from computers, to cameras, to phones, for potential evidence of child pornography. 

KXAN sat down with District Attorney Sonny McAfee to discuss the case.

“The results led to the investigation in Blanco County, which is one of the counties in my district,” McAfee said of the APD’s search warrant, where they obtained SD cards. One of those cards, contained the video of Spalteholz talking about purchasing child pornography. 

KXAN asked McAfee if the woman you can hearing asking questions in the video is also part of the investigation. 

“Unfortunately I can’t talk about who might be a witness, who might not be a witness or involved in the investigation other than the agencies involved,” McAfee said. 

In an interview with KXAN Tuesday morning, City Manager Spencer Cronk said, “It is critical for leadership at APD, AFD and at the top of the city, myself, to ensure that these things do not happen again… We are doing everything that we need to do cooperate and investigating that as thoroughly as possible and as quickly as possible.”

Cooperation between Austin police and the Blanco County Sheriff’s Office led to a case the DA commended. 

“While it’s not unusual for agencies to cooperate together, I have to say the Austin Police Department’s cooperation and assistance has been exceptional. Their, one, knowledge of the facts, knowledge of the material, as well as Blanco County’s officers that are very knowledgeable, has just been invaluable to put this investigation together,” McAfee said. 

The DA says other charges, beyond child pornography, may develop. 

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