Complaint alleging child pornography possession, distribution filed against Carmel Valley ranch owner

A federal complaint alleging distribution and possession of child pornography has been filed against Christian Clews, owner of the Clews Horse Ranch in Carmel Valley, and a long-time member of the Carmel Valley Community Planning Board.

According to a complaint filed Dec. 12 in the U.S. District Court for Southern California - which was unsealed by a federal judge on Dec. 21 - a special agent with Homeland Securities Investigations was alerted in November 2014 that two images depicting suspected child pornography had been uploaded via a cellular phone which was later linked to Clews.

Subsequently, on Oct. 28, following an investigation, investigators served a search warrant at Clews Horse Ranch, 11500 Clews Ranch Road in Carmel Valley.

“On this date, post-Miranda, Christian Clews admitted to possessing and distributing child pornography,” said the complaint.

On Oct. 28, said the complaint, investigators seized various electronic devices from Christian Clews and his residence. “Subsequent examination and review revealed numerous child pornography image and video files on multiple electronic devices seized from Christian Clews,” said the complaint.

Among the material discovered by investigators, said the complaint, were more than 100 child pornography videos found on a Dell desktop computer.

The complaint also states that the initial two suspected child pornography images that had been uploaded by a cellular phone were traced to a cell phone number that is also listed on the Clews Horse Ranch website as “Christian’s cell.”

Federal court records indicate that Clews was arrested on Dec. 20, and was then released to “house incarceration,” and ordered to be monitored by GPS tracking, on Dec. 23. He was also required to put up a personal appearance bond of $150,000.

Conditions of his release, pending trial, include an order not to “access any social networking site including, but not limited to, MySpace, Facebook, Friendster... Instagram, Twitter, etc.”

He was also ordered to have no contact with children under 18 unless supervised by another adult.

Clews’ attorney, Hamilton Arendsen of San Diego, could not be reached for comment.

Officials with the San Diego Police Department and the local Homeland Security office did not respond to a reporter’s inquiries as of press-time.

Court records show that Clews waived a preliminary hearing on the charges originally set for Jan. 3, but the documents do not indicate if a new date for the hearing has been set.

Clews stepped down from the community planning board in November, giving no reason for his decision.

The Clews Horse Ranch has been boarding horses since 1992, according to its website. Equestrian training and riding lessons are also offered at the ranch, which occupies 40 acres.

Any member of the public who has information about potential victims in this case can contact the San Diego Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force at 858-715-7100.