United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
Joshua D. Wolson United States District Judge.
September 13, 2019, the Government submitted an oral appeal
to the Order Setting Conditions of Release that Magistrate
Judge Rice entered earlier that day (ECF No. 6). Following
oral argument, this Court reversed that decision and ordered
Defendant Timothy Woll detained pending trial in this action.
This Memorandum provides the written findings of fact and
conclusions of law explaining that decision.
September 10, 2019, the Government filed a Criminal Complaint
against Woll (ECF No. 1.) The Government's submission
includes an affidavit from Special Agent Christopher
Duncanson of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which
supplies much of the factual background here.
time of his arrest, Woll lived alone in Sinking Spring,
Pennsylvania. He was a Lieutenant with the Cumru Township
Police Department, where his duties included maintaining and,
where appropriate, disposing of evidence, including
March 14, 2019, Woll spoke with Special Agent Duncanson and
Special Agent Thomas Neeson at the Cumru Township Police
Department. During that conversation, Woll offered various
explanations for the presence of child pornography on his
work-issued laptop and in his Microsoft OneDrive account.
Woll stated during that interview that, in early February
2019, he learned that Microsoft had disabled his OneDrive
account on January 14, 2019. After learning that information,
Woll ran an erasing program called “Eraser” on
his home and work computers “to make sure they were
clean.” Over the next two weeks, Woll queried himself
in a law enforcement database and learned that a Berks County
detective had searched his name.
was arrested on September 10, 2019. He was charged with
Transportation of Child Pornography, in violation of 18
U.S.C. § 2252(a)(1), and Access with Intent to View
Child Pornography, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §
2252(a)(4)(B). He had an initial appearance on September 11,
2019, and the Court entered an order of temporary detention.
On September 13, 2019, the Government filed a Motion for
Pretrial Detention. (ECF No. 3.) That same day, Magistrate
Judge Rice entered an Order Setting Conditions of Release,
which permitted Woll's release upon the payment of $75,
000 cash bail and imposed various conditions, including
24hour home confinement, electronic monitoring, and a
prohibition on Woll having any computer or other electronic
device. The Government filed an immediate, oral appeal to
District Judge reviews a Magistrate Judge's decision
regarding bail de novo. See United States v.
Delker, 757 F.2d 1390, 1394 (3d Cir. 1985). Generally,
the Bail Reform Act requires a court to release a defendant
on the lease restrictive condition or combination of
conditions that will reasonably assure the defendant's
appearance and the safety of the community. See 18
U.S.C. § 3142(c)(1)(B). However, pursuant to 18 U.S.C.
§ 3142(e)(3)(E), in cases involving a minor victim under
Section 2252(a)(1), there is a rebuttable presumption that no
condition or combination of conditions will reasonably assure
the safety of any other person and the appearance of the
person as required. If the presumption applies, then a
defendant must produce countervailing evidence that forms the
basis for his contention that he will appear and will not
pose a threat to the community. See U.S. v. Carbone,
793 F.2d 559, 560 (3d Cir. 1986).
there is a rebuttable presumption that no condition or
combination of conditions will reasonably assure the safety
of any other person and the community because Woll is charged
with an offense involving a minor child under 18 U.S.C.
§ 2252(a)(1). See 18 U.S.C. §
3142(e)(3)(E). Woll offered little, if any, evidence at the
hearing to rebut the presumption. He argued that conditions
that allow the Government to track his movements and that
remove the electronics from his home will protect the
community. However, he did not demonstrate that the
conditions that he suggested would actually prevent him from
obtaining an electronic device, consuming more child
pornography, or warning others who might be implicated in the
investigation. The Court therefore concludes that Woll did
not produce evidence to rebut the presumption.
Woll had rebutted the presumption, the Court's conclusion
would be the same because the Court concludes that the
Government has proven by clear and convincing evidence that
no condition or combination of conditions will reasonably
assure the safety of any other person and the community. In
reaching that conclusion, the Court has considered the nature
and circumstances of the offense charged, the weight of the
evidence against Woll, Woll's history and
characteristics, and the nature and seriousness of the danger
to the community were Woll to be released. See 18
U.S.C. § 3142(g). Here, the nature of the offenses is
troubling. Indeed, child pornography is an “insidious
offense since it takes advantage of a particularly vulnerable
segment of society, children.” U.S. v.
Schenberger, 498 F.Supp.2d 738, 743 (D.N.J. 2007)
(citing U.S. v. MacEwan, 445 F.3d 237, 250 (3d Cir.
2006)). Moreover, “the mere existence of and traffic in
child pornographic images creates the potential for many
types of harm in the community.” Id. (same).
In addition, the circumstances of this particular crime are
problematic because Woll was a police officer who abused a
position of public trust. He also has shown an instinct to
obstruct justice and/or to interfere with the ongoing
investigation by his attempts to erase evidence.
the circumstances, the Court lacks confidence that any
conditions will prevent Woll from consuming pornographic
material or from interfering with the ongoing investigation
if he is released. The ubiquitous nature of
internet-connected electronic devices in today's society
makes it almost impossible to monitor and enforce a condition
that Woll have no access to electronic devices. Visitors
could bring him one, or he could acquire one while on the way
to a doctor's appointment or even to or from an
appointment with Pretrial Services. Moreover, the evidence
demonstrates that Woll is particularly technologically savvy
thanks to his job-a savviness that he used when he ran the
Eraser program. He therefore poses a particular risk to the
community at large if he is released.
Court is persuaded by the analysis in Schenberger, a
case with substantially similar facts. The Court has
therefore ordered ...