A New Jersey police officer in charge of the department's Web site and computer systems has been locked up on child porn charges.
To hear prosecutors tell it, Pennsauken Township police officer John Schenberger was a sick fellow who sent 1,071 still images and 11 movies to (whoops!) an FBI agent that included depictions of bestiality, child bondage and child pornography.
Schenberger allegedly engaged in this vice while on duty and using Pennsauken Township's computers. He's accused of writing to the FBI agent, who pretended to be about to engage in sexual acts with a 5-year-old niece: "I'm in the office (at Pennsauken Township Police Department), once your niece gets there I'll lock my door so I can watch."
The FBI's Memphis Crimes Against Children Task Force claims they stumbled across Schenberger's alleged predilections after they found him on the Google Talk buddy list of another suspect.
Schenberger's attorney had requested bail until the trial could take place. But U.S. Magistrate Judge Joel Schneider refused it in a July 27 ruling, saying the defendant was a flight risk.
Excerpts from Schneider's opinion:
Although there may be instances when bail is appropriate for a defendant charged with receiving and distributing child pornography, this is not such an instance. The available evidence clearly demonstrates, and defendant concedes, he received and distributed a substantial number of images and films of child pornography. These images were graphic and included scenes of bondage and physical abuse.
Furthermore, although this Court is not prepared at this time to go so far as to opine that defendant actively encouraged the molestation of a five-year old girl in Tennessee, there is no question defendant believed and expected this was going to occur and he intended to watch it live on a webcam. There is also no question that defendant did not take any steps to stop the molestation he hoped was going to occur. The fact that defendant was willing to permit this abuse to take place is a window into his character.
Furthermore, defendant reviewed and distributed child pornography using his police computer while he was working at his police station. If the defendant viewed and exchanged child pornography under these circumstances, it is difficult to conceive of a situation that would deter him from his illegal conduct. In addition, the fact that a trusted police officer engaged in the charged illegal activities is especially egregious. Defendant betrayed his oath of office and the trust placed in him by his family, employer and the community at large. If defendant betrayed this trust, no assurances can be given that he would not also violate any condition of release this Court imposed, no matter how stringent...
As to defendant's risk of flight, the court is not confident defendant will appear in the future given his knowledge of police practices and procedures and his computer expertise. It is not far-fetched to believe that this knowledge will enable defendant to avoid detection if he flees. Also noting home detention, family assurances and electronic monitoring are not sufficient to justify bail in view of strong evidence that the defendant presented a risk of flight and danger to the community). Furthermore, defendant faces a certain substantial prison sentence and the loss of any stature or prestige he held in his community. In addition, as a former police officer defendant is aware of the risks he faces in prison to his personal safety. This combination of factors creates a substantial incentive for defendant to flee.
For all the foregoing reasons, the Court finds that detention is appropriate and has entered an Order of Detention Pending Trial.