Judge kills himself moments before arrest over hidden bathroom camera accusations

Investigators say Jonathan Newell swallowed camera’s memory card before being questioned

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Saturday 11 September 2021 00:50
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A judge killed himself moments before he was to have been arrested on allegations he had a hidden camera that captured images of naked boys in his bathroom.

Jonathan Newell, 50, had been on leave from his role as a circuit judge in Maryland’s Caroline County since July after allegations were made against him.

When FBI agents arrived at his home in Henderson, Maryland, on Friday morning to arrest him on a federal criminal complaint they found him “suffering from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.”

The Maryland US Attorney’s Office confirmed that the judge had been pronounced dead at 6.43am.

“Maryland State Police will lead the investigation into the apparent suicide,” prosecutors said in  a statement.

A neighbour, Kimberly Keith, posted on Facebook that FBI agents had been stationed outside the judge’s home, demanding over a loudspeaker for him to come out.

She stated that gunshots had been heard and an ambulance arrived shortly after.

Prosecutors were set to charge Mr Newell on federal charges of exploitation of a child.

The criminal complaint, which was unsealed on Friday, stated that Maryland State Police had been called in July after a minor boy claimed to have found the video camera in the bathroom of the judge’s cabin.

Investigators interviewed two boys, both minors, who said they had found the hidden camera as they “spent the night” at the cabin with Mr Newell.

One of the boys told investigators that he was undressing in the bathroom when he saw that the camera was on and facing the shower in a corner of the room.

The boys reported the incident to their parents, who contacted law enforcement, the complaint states.

Mr Newell denied knowing anything about the camera, and said that another adult male and four boys had used the cabin the day before.

But when being interviewed, Mr Newell allegedly chewed and swallowed a camera memory card, and a CT scan later showed he had ingested a foreign object, according to the complaint.

When authorities carried out searches of Mr Newell’s cabin, home and office they seized multiple digital devices, including a hard drive they allege contained multiple videos of young men showering, dating back to September 2014.

Mr Newell, a Republican, was appointed as a judge by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan in 2016, and started a 15-year term in 2018.