02/15/2006

Retired Wis. PO caught with one million child porn images

The Associated Press

KENOSHA, Wisconsin- A retired police officer was arrested in what is described as potentially one of Wisconsin's largest child pornography cases. In retirement, the main had maintained the computers of a Christian school, which fired him when it learned of the pornograpy arrest.

Newton B. Tench told an investigator his computer contained a million images of child pornography, Kenosha County Assistant District Attorney Shelly Rusch said in court Monday, when Tench was ordered held on a $350,000 (euro294,167) bond.

Authorities arrested Tench, 63, on Sunday after getting a warrant to search his Pleasant Prairie home. Investigators took two pickup trucks full of computers and other material from a padlocked room in his basement, Rusch said.

Prosecutors have not formally charged Tench in the case, though they expected to do so Tuesday, Rusch said.

Paul Blount, administrator of the Christian Life School in Kenosha, said Tench had worked there the past 2 1/2 years, making sure that the school's computers were kept in working order. But Blount said the school dismissed Tench after his arrest.

"It was a total shock," the administrator said. "It just blew me away."

About 815 students attend the school, which serves students from preschool to the 12th grade. Tench did not have any regular contact with students, although he may have passed them from time to time in the school's hallways, Blount said.

If Tench indeed has 1 million child porn images, that would make the case one of the largest in Wisconsin history.

"That's the largest I've ever heard of," said Kelly Kennedy, a spokesman for the state attorney general's office, which worked with federal authorities in the case.

Federal authorities started investigating the former patrolman in October 2003, Rusch said. A warrant alleges Tench subscribed to a child porn Web site.

Tench was a patrolman for the Waukegan, Illinois, Police Department from 1972 until 1993, Cmdr. Mark Stevenson said, spending some of his time with the department as an evidence technician.

The former officer did not work with computers there, Stevenson said. The commander said there had been no indications of inappropriate activities by Tench when he was with the department.

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