Skip to comments.Ex-judge surrenders on new porn charges: faces counts that include possessing child pornography
Posted on 08/22/2003 6:00:10 AM PDT by new cruelty
CAMDEN - Before the judge fell from grace, he kept evidence of his dark secret hidden in a bedroom safe at the Shore, authorities said yesterday.
Inside the safe, Stephen W. Thompson, who presided over family and criminal cases in state Superior Court for 20 years in Camden County, allegedly kept a collection of child pornography as well as lists of the ages of sexual consent in various states and countries.
Perhaps most disturbing, the government alleged, authorities also found a videotape of Thompson performing sex on a boy in Russia.
Thompson, who resigned in April after his arrest on a state child-pornography charge, surrendered to authorities early yesterday to face new charges, this time in federal court in Camden.
The federal charges - possession of child pornography and traveling overseas to make a pornographic movie - carry far stiffer sentences than the state charge.
If convicted, Thompson would face a minimum 10-year sentence on the charge related to the Russian video. The federal child-pornography charge usually triggers a 27- to 33-month sentence for first offenders. Both charges include fines up to $250,000.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Joel B. Rosen ordered Thompson held until a bail hearing Tuesday.
Thompson's attorney, Leonard S. Baker, said, "These are serious charges, and we are concerned."
"He's ready to fight this thing," Baker said. "I would hope that he would enjoy the presumption of innocence and would be treated as anyone else would."
Deputy U.S. Attorney Lee A. Solomon, a former Camden County prosecutor, said more charges were possible.
"Obviously, as somebody who knew the judge for a number of years, it's shocking, and it's disappointing," Solomon said. "But the reality is that we were able to find somebody who was doing horrible things and get him off the street."
Thompson's arrest April 30 stunned the Camden County legal community. The Haddon Township resident, a decorated Vietnam veteran who lost his right leg in the war, was generally admired.
The New Jersey Supreme Court suspended Thompson, 57, after his arrest. Though he pleaded not guilty and was released on his own recognizance, Thompson later retired, saying it was best for the court system.
In early May, Camden County officials began reviewing items seized from Thompson's homes in Avalon and Haddon Township.
Among the evidence, the officials found 17 videotapes of "hard-core child pornography," including children as young as 7 years old engaged in sex, the government said yesterday.
They also found thousands of computer images, authorities said, and evidence that Thompson used the Internet to buy child pornography.
In late May, the government said, the officials discovered the alleged Russian video, still lodged in the judge's digital video camera.
"That's when we realized the allegations were becoming more serious and had gone beyond the boundaries of New Jersey and just watching child pornography," Camden County Prosecutor Vincent P. Sarrubi said. State authorities said they soon alerted federal officials.
In an affidavit filed in court yesterday, FBI Agent Mark S. Gillen described the contents of the video, which he said was made in September during Thompson's visit to St. Petersburg, Russia.
The allegedly incriminating scene on the 40-minute videotape begins in a hotel. According to the FBI agent, Thompson first asked a Russian boy to remove his clothes. The FBI said the boy was between 13 and 16 years old.
According to the FBI, Thompson then placed his video camera on a piece of furniture, removed his clothing, and joined the boy in bed. The FBI said the tape captured Thompson performing sex acts on the boy.
Next, the FBI said, Thompson offered the boy money to perform a sex act on him. But the video does not show whether the boy complied, officials said. The scene in the hotel room abruptly ends.
"What happened next, we don't know," Assistant U.S. Attorney Diana V. Carrig said.
Baker said the government should not have charged Thompson in U.S. District Court for conduct that it alleges occurred in another country.
"I just believe the government is wrong," said Baker, who has not viewed the videotape.
Carrig, however, said a statute that prohibits crossing state or national boundaries to produce child pornography "clearly covers Stephen Thompson's actions."
From what I know about Russia, I can tell you what happened next.
The door burst open, and 5 beefy Russian mobsters beat the sh*t outta da judge, took all his money, and made him drive to an ATM to clean out his bank account.
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If there was justice going on here, anyone who did what this judge allegedly did should get the max - i.e. death sentence. And none of this waiting 15 years at 20 grand a year during the endless appeals. Swift death punishment, and if hanging became the method again, it would be a lot cheaper.
"And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck. [MARK 9:42]