BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — A mother’s intuition resulted in a Bloomington man being arrested for exploiting her 14-year-old child.
A probable cause affidavit filed in the case against Joshua Vestal states he had been living with the girl’s mother since being released from prison in January 2022. Suspecting something was wrong, she went through his phone in early September.
While going through the phone, the document states she found two nude photographs of her daughter that were taken from inside the home. She also found a video of her daughter being groped.
The document states the girl’s mother was able to identify Vestal as the person groping her daughter based on the tattoos on the forearm.
While continuing to go through Vestal’s phone, the document states the mother was able to find a video of Vestal performing sexual acts on her daughter. She was able to identify him again based on the tattoos, along with his face being visible at one point in the video.
The mother told police that it appeared the video was taken on September 5. The document states she was also able to identify the bedding in the video as her own. The girl also said “Bitty” during the video, which the mother says was her nickname for Vestal.
When the mother confronted Vestal about the photos and videos, the document states he tried to convince her that she had not seen what she thought she had. She told him that she had sent the images and videos to her phone, at which point he took her phone and submerged it in the toilet tank. The document states Vestal then factory reset his own phone.
The document states that the mother took the phones after Vestal fell asleep and took it to the store. She replaced her own phone along with getting a new sim card for Vestal’s. After she activated her own phone, the document states she discovered the second video she found had synched to her Google Drive. The other two videos were not recovered.
Police tried to find Vestal the day she came forward with the information, but the document said he took her car and left. They were able to arrest him the next day as he returned to the apartment complex. Inside the vehicle was a note signed “Bitty.”
Vestal continued to deny that it was him in the video when police asked him about it. He told them that he used video editing applications to make anime porn with their real-life characteristics. Eventually, he asked for a lawyer.
Vestal was charged with child exploitation, sexual misconduct with a minor, and possession of child pornography.