Answers Elusive In Chism Investigation

SPOKANE — More questions are now being raised than being answered about an ongoing State Patrol pornography investigation that jailed a Spokane firefighter who is fighting to clear his name.

Todd Chism, a lieutenant in the Spokane Fire Department, has been on paid administrative leave for five weeks. He thought by now a search of his computers would have shown he never had any child pornography and his managers would have brought him back to work.

That isn’t the case unfortunately.

Chism was arrested after State Patrol troopers traced a Bank of America credit card used to buy child pornography back to his address in Nine Mile Falls and in late January State Troopers executed a search warrant on his home.

Todd Chism subsequently appeared before a Spokane District Court judge who was concerned about a lack of evidence in the case and released him with no charges filed. In fact, the State Patrol had also wanted to seize computers Lt. Chism used at his fire station but after looking at the probable cause in the case no Spokane County judge or prosecutor would sign the search warrant they needed.

State Troopers, meanwhile, began the arduous task of searching through every computer, every disk and digital media recovered from Chism’s house. They say they are still investigating that evidence and have brought in extra manpower to speed up the completion of the Chism investigation. 

Todd Chism then took matters into his own hands. He went to court to get a copy of what detectives had found in his hard drives and then spent thousands of dollars having it screened by a Spokane company called Global Compusearch.

Global Compusearch is owned by Marcus Lawson who is believed to be the man hired by the Spokesman-Review to explore former Spokane Mayor Jim’s West’s sexuality. An online chatter named “Motobrock” identified himself as a high school student and engaged West in online conversations about gay sex.

The revelations prompted voters to recall the mayor ending his political career. Lawson to this day refuses to confirm or deny his role in the Spokesman-Review investigation into Jim West, saying he won’t identify his clients.

In just five days, Global Compusearch managed to scan both hard drives as the State Patrol investigation stretches into its fifth week.

What was the result of Chism’s investigation into the hard drives? Right now a court order bars Chism from making the results public, so a motion filed in court Tuesday asks that Chism be allowed to share the Global Compusearch findings with his friends, family and his fire department managers.

In the meantime, KXLY4 is going to court to gain more information about this case. Thurston County Judge Anne Hirsch has ordered the warrant used to search Chism’s home sealed indefinitely.

While having a Thurston County judge sign a warrant for a Stevens County property isn’t unusual, sealing a warrant without setting a hearing within 14 days of the execution of that warrant is. KXLY 4 has sent the court a letter asking whether or not the search warrant should remain sealed.