Evart woman faces federal charges for creating child porn of daughter

GRAND RAPIDS — An Evart woman who helped create child pornography of her daughter has been federally indicted on several sexual abuse charges.

Andrea Marie Mast, of Evart, faces federal charges of sexual exploitation of a child, distribution of images of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct and possession of images of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct in U.S. District Court.

The indictment, issued by U.S. Attorney Daniel Mekaru, states that Mast produced five digital images of a 7-year-old girl and sent them from her cell phone to the e-mail address of Big Rapids resident Timothy Thomas Sims.

Sims, who was federally indicted in February on three counts of sexual exploitation of a child, faces an additional count of possession of images of a minor engaging in sexual activity. The newest charge relates directly to the images Sims possessed of Mast’s daughter, but also relates to video footage he created of a 14-year-old girl dressing in her bedroom. Sims’ three counts of sexual exploitation of a child address the creation of that video and not of the images of Mast’s daughter.

Sims and Mast were arrested on Dec. 29 after Mast’s 7-year-old daughter visited her father for Christmas and told him that her mother had been taking sexually explicit photos of her and sending them “to a man named Tim in Big Rapids,” Evart Chief of Police Zackary Szakacs said after the pair were arrested on Jan. 3.

An investigation by the Evart Police Department found that Mast and Sims met through a free online dating service. During their conversations, Sims learned that Mast had a daughter. Mast later ended up sending photos of the girl to Sims.

Mecosta County Prosecutor Peter Jaklevic said he dropped the state charges against Sims once the case became a federal matter because the sentence that could be administered in federal court would be greater than any sentence that would come from state court.

However, state charges against Mast still stand, said Osceola County Assistant Prosecutor Andrew LaPres.

“We had the FBI involved to look at some stuff that was on the computer when the whole deal with Mast and Sims began,” LaPres said. “(The federal government) indicted Sims and we still had her left over. I met with the U.S. and talked on phone about what we should do with her.”

Police seized a laptop and an iPhone from Sims during the investigation.

Mast is scheduled for a settlement conference on April 8, where she may or may not decide to plead guilty. Whether she decides to plead guilty or head to trial, federal proceedings against her and Sims will have to wait until her state charges are resolved, LaPres said.

As of Thursday, a federal court date had not been scheduled for Mast and Sims to appear together. Sims was scheduled for a motion hearing on April 11, but that date has been canceled. Mast has not made an initial appearance in federal court and remains at Osceola County Jail.