Arvada firefighter facing child pornography charges

Posted at 3:17 PM, Mar 22, 2018

ARVADA, Colo. — An Arvada firefighter, whose high school football jersey number may have helped investigators in the case, was arrested earlier this month for allegedly exchanging images and video of child pornography online.

Michael Gowey, 35, was arrested in early March after an investigation by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. Gowey has been a member of the Arvada Fire Protection District since 2011.

The investigation stems from an arrest of a Tennessee man on Aug. 14, 2017. 

According to court documents obtained by Denver7, federal agents raided the home of Nashville child porn suspect Curt Cannamela and discovered a chat string through the mobile application Kik with a user named “Softballgirl32.”

Softballgirl32 claimed to be a female named “Jen Thomas,” and allegedly sent more than 14 images of child pornography to Cannamela through Kik, according to an affidavit. 

Investigators later tracked Softballgirl32 to Gowey at his Lakewood home, where they interviewed him in November 2017. 

According to the affidavit, Gowey denied the allegations and said the number 32 had no significance to him when asked by Jefferson County deputies about the Kik screenname. But a subsequent search of Gowey’s basement revealed Gowey's old high school jersey with the number 32 on it. 

Deputies say when Gowey was shown the jersey, he confessed to being Softballgirl32.

“Michael admitted he had made a mistake," and denied “he ever touched a child or thought about touching a child sexually," the affidavit read. 

Arvada Fire Chief Jon Greer released the following statement Thursday:

To our valued community -

Regarding the arrest of Mr. Michael Gowey, all of us at the Arvada Fire Protection District are shocked, angry, and saddened by the level of the allegations that have come forth. Mr. Gowey’s employment with the District ended as soon as we became aware of his arrest and the charges leveled against him. We want to assure the public that the alleged incomprehensible behavior of Mr. Gowey is not representative any way of the values of our organization, our members or our community. Please join all of the members of the Arvada Fire Protection District in praying for victims of sexual exploitation and their families.

Gowey is free on a $40,000 bond.