Religious brother charged with child porn

×

 

By KATHY CHANG
Staff Writer

METUCHEN — A former St. Joseph High School history teacher has been charged with one count of possessing child pornography.

Brother John Spalding, a 74-year-old resident of the school, was charged on Feb. 18 after he voluntarily surrendered at the Middlesex County Courthouse in New Brunswick.

“As soon as charges came to light, Brother Spalding came forward regarding this behavior and was removed from the ministry last summer,” said Brother Mark Hilton, of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, which operates the private Catholic all-boys preparatory school in the Diocese of Metuchen.

Bail for Spalding was set at $75,000, according to a release by Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew Carey and Metuchen Police Chief David Irizarry.

The charge was filed during an investigation by Detective Kevin Doherty of the Metuchen Police Department and Detective David Abromaitis of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office.

During the investigation, it was determined that Brother Spalding allegedly maintained child pornography on a computer at the school on June 21, 2015, according to the prosecutor’s office.

The charge was filed after a search of the computer was completed. The investigation began after an unidentified official contacted police.

Hilton said in accordance with the Brothers of the Sacred Heart’s policies, Brother Spalding was immediately removed from active ministry, received counseling at a residential treatment facility, and is now confined to service in the ministry’s retirement community. In line with ministry’s protection policies, Spalding is being supervised and has been restricted from contact with minors.

Spalding came forward last summer when school was not in session.

“He had taught one class of history during the previous year so he was teaching minimally previous to the report,” said Hilton.

Erin Friedlander, director for the Office of Communications and Public Relations for the Diocese of Metuchen, said officials are aware of the arrest of Spalding.

In July 2015, the Diocese was notified by superiors of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, who operate the school, reporting inappropriate pornography access allegedly by Brother Spalding.

“The Diocese of Metuchen promptly reported the matter to the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, which commenced an investigation,” said Friedlander.

Friedlander said the Diocese will continue to cooperate fully with law enforcement officials throughout the investigation process, in accordance with the Diocese’s longstanding policy.

The Diocese of Metuchen believes the protection of children and youth is a shared responsibility in our communities and that all trusted adults have a responsibility to protect children not only from physical dangers but also psychological, moral, and spiritual dangers, Friedlander said.

“The Diocese will continue to enact and enforce important safeguards in this area, including the institution of protective guardians, codes of conduct, background evaluations, policies and procedures, and safety training programs,” she said.

The investigation is active and is continuing. Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Doherty of the Metuchen Police Department at (732) 632-8501, or Detective Abromaitis of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office at (732) 745-4436.