Judge Accused Of Recording Children On Bathroom Hidden Camera Kills Himself

During an FBI search, Jonathan Gray Newell allegedly ate a memory card that may have contained evidence.

October 05, 2021
Judge Jonathan Gray Newell, 50, of Caroline County, Maryland.

Judge Jonathan Gray Newell, 50, of Caroline County, Maryland.

Photo by: Caroline County Circuit Court website

Caroline County Circuit Court website

Judge Jonathan Gray Newell, 50, of Caroline County, Maryland.

By: Aaron Rasmussen

A judge in Maryland accused of recording illicit images of children on a hidden camera ate alleged evidence and later killed himself when authorities attempted to take him into custody.

On Sept. 10 just before 7 a.m., The FBI went to the Henderson home of Jonathan Gray Newell, 50, to arrest him on a federal sexual exploitation of a child charge. When agents entered Newell’s residence, they discovered him dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

A federal criminal complaint filed before his death alleged Newell, a longtime Caroline County prosecutor who became a circuit court judge in the same jurisdiction in 2016, took several male minors on an overnight Hoopers Island trip last July. The parents of one boy told police their son allegedly found and photographed a hidden camera in Newell’s fishing cabin bathroom, according to the Baltimore Sun.

Two of the boys also “stated they were naked when Newell checked them for ticks,” and a third child “initially did not recall if Newell touched his genitalia, but later stated that Newell once or twice moved the minor’s genitalia to look for ticks,” the newspaper reported, citing a criminal complaint.

FBI agents raided Newell’s cabin, and after an interview with investigators concluded, criminal records state, “Newell was permitted to go to his bedroom to plug his cell phone into a charger and make phone calls.”

During a call, Newell reached under his bed and then appeared to put something into his mouth, according to the Washington Post.

“The investigator heard a loud, distinguishable, ‘crunch,’ sound from the area of Newell’s mouth. After another minute or two, the investigator heard the same ‘crunch’ again from Newell’s mouth, followed by Newell immediately reaching for and drinking from a cup located on his dresser,” the FBI wrote in charging documents.

When investigators looked at a camera Newell later retrieved for them from underneath his bed, the FBI wrote that “the SD card slot was empty” and “the device appeared to be the same device Minor Victim 1 photographed in the bathroom earlier that morning.”

Investigators secured a warrant, and the following day a CT scan performed on Newell showed what was described as an “18 mm linear possibly metallic foreign body within the small bowel,” the complaint states.

The FBI wrote that agents discovered multiple “digital devices” as well as an external hard drive that “revealed numerous videos of minor males showering” during additional searches carried out on Newell’s cabin, home, office and other personal property.

At the time of the July raid, agents did not arrest or charge Newell since the investigation was still ongoing and a criminal complaint was not yet filed.

Newell denied the allegations against him. After his suicide in September, Newell’s defense attorneys wrote in a statement: “Our hearts break for Judge Newell’s family, especially for his two sons with whom he was very close.”

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