By Richard L. Gaw
Following an investigation by Pennsylvania State Police, former New Garden Township Supervisor Warren Reynolds was arrested on June 12 for the possession of more than 500 images of child pornography. The collection included both video and still images depicting children as young as 3 engaged in sexual acts with adults and other children.
In total, Reynolds, 51, was charged with sexual abuse of children, possession of child pornography and one count of criminal use of a communication facility. He appeared before Magisterial District Judge Matthew Seavey, and was freed after posting 10 percent of a $1 million bail set by Seavey. At the hearing, Reynolds was represented by Theodore Simon, a criminal defense attorney in Philadelphia; and Vincent Difabio, a criminal law attorney with the Paoli firm of Platt, Digiorgio & Difabio.
The investigation began in the wake of an April 22 computer technician's visit to the Reynolds home at 973 Penn Green Road in Avondale to service a computer in Reynolds' office. During the repair, the technician found hundreds of child pornography images on the computer, and discovered that some of these images had been accessed the previous day. Reynolds' wife, Christine, told authorities that Reynolds had been working on the computer at the time the images were accessed.
Soon after, the technician reported his findings to the Pennsylvania State Police, who then conducted a search at Reynolds' home. Police seized a Dell Dimension 2400 desktop from the home office, a Seagate external hard drive linked to the home office computer, an older model Gateway 2000 desktop computer from the third floor loft of the home, a Dell Inspiron 5000E laptop computer from the home's basement, one roll of 35mm film from the home office, two rolls of 35mm film from the loft, four printed images from the loft, 33 three-inch floppy disks and 11 recordable disks bearing titles indicative of child pornography, a Sony Handycam from the home office, numerous VHS tapes from the basement and loft, and reels of film and photo slides from the basement. A pair of children's underwear was also found in a box in the loft.
Corporal James Stosser, a certified forensic computer examiner for the Pennsylvania State Police who has investigated numerous child pornography cases, performed a search of the contents taken from Reynolds' home. During his investigation, Stosser found that the Dell Dimension computer contained about 400 images and 40 videos depicting children ranging in age from 3 to 17 years, naked and involved in sexual acts with adults and children of both genders. Stosser discovered that these files had been downloaded from the internet to the computer beginning in October 2005 and ending on April 21, 2013.
During his search of the floppy disks, Stosser found an additional 1,400 images of child pornography, some dating back to 2000.
On June 5, Reynolds submitted a letter of resignation to Stephen Allaband, chairman of the New Garden Township Board of Supervisors, announcing that he would leave his post immediately due to "personal reasons."
In a press release sent from the District Attorney's Office of Chester County, Captain William White of the Pennsylvania State Police said that police aggressively investigate child pornography allegations, and that investigators, in conjunction with the District Attorney's Child Abuse Unit, are committed to prosecuting anyone engaging in the exploitation of children through pornography.
"Whatever your position in life, possession of child pornography is a one-way ticket to arrest, prosecution and shame," said District Attorney Tom Hogan. "If we catch you with child porn, nobody will ever forget your name or your offense. Do not view child pornography, do not download child pornography and do not aid and abet in this cycle of abuse."
A statement released by his attorneys reads as follows:
"Mr. Warren Reynolds is charged with solely possessing images of child pornography alone and in the privacy of his home, obtained and downloaded from the internet with a computer. Mr. Reynolds and his family have a long and distinguished history of doing good and charitable deeds in the Chester County and greater community. It is Mr. Reynolds' fervent hope to resolve this matter fairly, so that in the near future, Mr. Reynolds can return to the focus of his community, continue his family's tradition of doing good and charitable deeds and seek to earn back his good name.
"Mr. Reynolds correctly chose to voluntarily resign as township supervisor prior to his surrender," the statement continues. "He worked hard in his role as township supervisor and served with distinction in that capacity. The charges as alleged have nothing to do with his former service as a township supervisor."
In the days since, some of Reynolds' former colleagues in New Garden Township government have expressed both outrage and sympathy. "Yesterday, I wanted to chew him up and spit him out, but today, I have found compassion and care for both Warren and his family," said former supervisor Barclay Hoopes. "I felt let down, and I looked at it first with anger, but I realize that he's a human being. He's got problems, and I feel for him as a person and for his family. He's got a lot to work through.
"You can either push him away, or you can reach your hand down and pull him back up. I've come to a compassionate place, but I also know the reality of what has to be done."
"My compassion goes out to the children who are victims and for his family," said supervisor Bob Norris. "As a fellow supervisor, Warren and I differed in our views on many issues, but I always respected his preparedness and his belief that he was doing what he thought was best for New Garden."