updated 11/13/2008 1:47:54 PM ET 2008-11-13T18:47:54

A former high-level aide to California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer has been charged in federal court with receiving and distributing child pornography.

The aide, Jeff Rosato, 32, was arrested last Friday. Boxer's office fired him the same day upon learning of the charges.

Rosato appeared in federal court in suburban northern Virginia on Wednesday and was released to home detention on condition he not interact with children or use a computer. He was not required to post bail or bond money but is being told to undergo medical treatment.

"On Friday, the Justice Department informed our office of criminal charges made against a Senate employee. Sen. Boxer has zero tolerance for crimes against children, and the employee was immediately terminated," Boxer spokeswoman Natalie Ravitz said in a statement Thursday. "Our office is cooperating fully with the Department of Justice in this matter."

Rosato had worked for Boxer since early 2005, beginning in her personal office as a legislative assistant and last year becoming a counsel to the Environment and Public Works Committee, which Boxer chairs. His areas of expertise included water policy, oceans and endangered species.

Rosato's attorney, Patrick N. Anderson of Alexandria, Va., did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

According to an FBI affidavit supporting the criminal complaint and arrest warrant, Rosato used a now-defunct Google program called Google Hello to share child porn images and movies with an undercover detective whom Rosato believed was a 13-year-old boy.

Between Jan. 2 and Jan. 23, during more than 15 online chats, Rosato sent the detective more than 600 files of graphic images, according to the affidavit by FBI special agent Chad Gallagher. An analysis of Rosato's computer revealed he was also trading child porn with other Google Hello users.

Investigators subpoenaed Google Inc. and Comcast in order to identify Rosato and last week executed a search warrant on his Arlington, Va., home, seizing computers and hard drives.

A preliminary review of Rosato's personal laptop computer, which was in his bedroom, found some 200 child porn images and some videos, according to the affidavit. "Many of the images and videos depict prepubescent boys engaged in sexual acts," the affidavit stated.

The criminal complaint charged Rosato with one count of receipt of child pornography and one count of distribution of child pornography, both felonies.

The charges were first reported Thursday by The (Washington) Examiner newspaper.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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