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July 3, 2014

Plum Island man arraigned on child porn charge

NEWBURYPORT — A 70-year-old Plum Island resident staying at a Newburyport nursing facility was arraigned yesterday on a single child pornography charge after a nursing home employee found dozens of disturbing images on his iPhone.

Richard A. Gingras was released on personal recognizance pending a pretrial hearing scheduled for Aug. 1 at Newburyport District Court.

As part of his release conditions, Gingras was ordered to have no unsupervised contact with anyone under 16, must not use an iPhone or computer, cannot possess pornography, and must allow communication between prosecutors and staff at Country Manor Rehabilitation and Nursing Center.

Confined to a wheelchair, Gingras was wheeled up to the podium by a family member and accompanied by court-appointed attorney Andrew Benson.

According to the report of Newburyport police officer Charles Vorderis, on May 14, Gingras asked a Country Manor Rehabilitation and Nursing Center employee to plug in his iPhone for recharging. When she did so, an image of child pornography appeared. After Gingras had fallen asleep, the staff member took the phone to a visiting nurse’s station, where she and other employees saw “several images of children.”

Inspector Michael Sugrue visited the rehabilitation center later that day and learned from employees that the images included young children or children posed provocatively or performing sexual acts. He then asked to speak to Gingras.

As Gingras wheeled himself into an office, a black iPhone on his lap fell to the ground. After retrieving it, Sugrue asked if there were any pornographic photos on his phone. Gingras said he took photos of nude girls depicted in magazines. Sugrue then asked if he could look through his phone to find those photos. After Gingras agreed, Sugrue had trouble getting past the first screen, as it appeared the phone had been reset to its factory settings.

He informed Gingras that due to his inability to get past the first screen, he would need to seize his phone. Gingras objected and terminated the interview immediately.

But based on the interview and witness statements, Sugrue believed there was probable cause to obtain a search warrant, which he did on May 22. After seizing Gingras’ phone, Sugrue found 90 apps with sex or porn titles, as well as more than 20 photos depicting naked boys and girls as young as 10 years old, according to Sugrue’s report.

On June 9, Sugrue issued a summons for Gingras to appear in court.

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