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Disney cruise passenger facing sex crimes caught with child sex abuse videos, authorities say

FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida. – Federal agents caught an Ohio man facing two counts of sex crimes against children with child sex abuse material on his phone after he disembarked from a Disney cruise ship in Port Everglades, authorities said.

Dakota Anthony Ferguson, 22, of Columbus, Ohio, appeared in federal court in Fort Lauderdale on Monday on charges of transportation and possession of child pornography. Authorities arrested him following a border search of his cellphone after he left the Disney Magic on Saturday, according to a federal criminal complaint filed Tuesday.

Court records from Franklin County, Ohio, obtained by Local 10 News show Ferguson is facing two counts of sexual abuse involving a minor following his arrest by Columbus police. According to those records, Ferguson was charged in that case in September 2022.

In the most recent case, court documents say U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents conducted a second investigation of Ferguson and found “numerous videos” depicting child sexual abuse on his cellphone. “The majority of them” depicted the rape or other sexual abuse of prepubescent girls.

Authorities said Ferguson admitted he began watching child sexual abuse material three years ago, viewing and sharing it on platforms such as the messaging app Telegram and the social network X, formerly known as Twitter. Agents allege he purchased videos featuring victims as young as two years old.

In one case, federal authorities said, Ferguson sent a video to a Telegram user with a caption suggesting the footage showed him raping a family member.

Ferguson “denies producing this video and stated his sole intention was to create the appearance of production,” Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent Katherine Leonard wrote in the criminal complaint.

Ferguson's indictment in Ohio states that he is accused of engaging in “sexual conduct” with a victim between the ages of 13 and 15 in 2021, when he was 19. He has pleaded not guilty in the case, according to the documents.

Local 10 News has contacted Disney Cruise Line to inquire about their passenger background check procedures.

Ferguson has been in Broward Main Jail since Tuesday. He is due to appear before a federal judge in Fort Lauderdale again next Monday to decide on bail.

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