A state court judge in Maryland who was facing imminent arrest by federal authorities over allegations of sexually exploiting at least one child was found dead in his home last week of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, as NBC News reports.
According to a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office in Maryland, Caroline County Circuit Court Judge Jonathan Newell was declared dead early Friday morning after being discovered by FBI agents who arrived at his Henderson residence to take him into custody, as The Hill noted.
An affidavit unsealed that same day revealed that back on July 23, state police investigators responded to a call related to a report initiated by a minor male, who claimed that while at a cabin in Fishing Creek, Maryland, he noticed a video camera that had been surreptitiously placed in a bathroom.
Upon their arrival, investigators conducted interviews with two minors on the scene, one of whom stated that the boys had been at the cabin all night, together with a man and four additional young males.
Newell was interviewed by investigators at the Fishing Creek cabin that same day, stating that 10 so-called “members” enjoyed access to the premises and could “come and go” as they pleased, and he also denied having put a camera in the structure’s bathroom.
Following that interview, Newell reportedly retreated to a bedroom, at which point investigators saw him reach beneath the bed and bring his hand to his mouth, leading police to suspect that the judge had ingested evidence in the form of a digital memory card used with camera equipment, as just such a device had indeed gone missing. A subsequent CT scan revealed that he had indeed swallowed a foreign object containing metal, as NBC News further noted.
Subsequent searches of Newell’s vehicle, office, and boat yielded additional digital devices containing videos of boys in the shower as well as footage of the judge himself setting up camera equipment in the cabin’s bathroom.
The affidavit further indicated that in interviews given to the FBI, a number of boys who claimed to have visited the cabin alleged that Newell inspected their bodies while they were naked, purportedly searching for ticks.
First appointed to his judicial post in 2016, Newell had been on leave since late July, having served as the state’s attorney in Caroline County going all the way back to 2003, and though his suicide may deprive his alleged victims of their day in court, hopefully they will receive any and all support they may need to move past such a troubling set of claims.