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A former editor of the Spokane Spokesman-Review newspaper entered a plea of not guilty to eleven charges linked to alleged payment for explicit images from underage girls.

73-year-old Steven Smith, who has been held at Spokane County Jail on a $25,000 bond since his arrest on July 20, denied all 11 counts of possessing explicit images of minors engaging in sexual conduct.

Smith held the position of executive editor at the Spokesman-Review from 2002 to 2008. Investigators found that a mobile cash payment account under Smith’s name was associated with a probe into minors utilizing social media platforms to exchange explicit images in return for money via a cash app. The victims, girls aged 10 to 14, reportedly shared images through an Instagram account and received payments through the mentioned app. Digital footprints led authorities to Smith’s residence in Spokane. Transcripts of chat conversations indicated Smith's awareness of the victims' ages. Moreover, during a search of Smith’s home in July, investigators uncovered ongoing downloads of explicit content involving minors.

Smith, who taught journalism ethics at the University of Idaho after his time at the Spokesman-Review, retired in 2020. FāVS News, a nonprofit news organization, suspended Smith indefinitely from his position as managing editor following his arrest.

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