A Maryland judge died from an 'apparent suicide' before he could be arrested over accusations of using a hidden camera on underage boys, officials say

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A Maryland judge died from an 'apparent suicide' before he could be arrested over accusations of using a hidden camera on underage boys, officials say
A Circuit Judge killed himself before being arrested on child exploitation charges. Timothy Abero/EyeEm via Getty Images
  • Circuit Judge Jonathan Newell was accused of using a hidden camera to take videos of boys showering.
  • Newell denied the accusations, but he chewed and swallowed a camera memory card after questioning.
  • He killed himself when FBI agents attempted to arrest him on Friday.

A Maryland Circuit Judge killed himself before he could be arrested for sexual exploitation of a child, according to public record.

FBI agents attempted to arrest Judge Jonathan Newell at his home on Friday, according to a statement from the US Attorney's office for the District of Maryland.

"Upon entering the residence the agents found Newell suffering from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound," the statement said. "He was pronounced dead at 6:43 a.m. Maryland State Police will lead the investigation into the apparent suicide."

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In July, Newell was accused of using a hidden camera to take videos of naked boys while they showered, according to a federal complaint made against him that is now publicly available.

He had been on leave from his job since the accusations surfaced.

Newell, who was 50 at the time of his death, had a cabin in Fishing Creek, Maryland, that he shared with others, according to the complaint.

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The complaint stated that Newell brought underage guests to the home for overnight stays on multiple occasions

On July 23, a teenage boy, who was around the age of 15-years-old at the time of writing, saw what appeared to be a camera in a bathroom near Newell's bedroom at the cabin, according to the complaint.

The camera sat inside a utility crate on a shelf and was pointing towards the shower. The teenager could see a green light blinking from it.

He took photos of the camera using his cell phone, and when he left the room to tell another teenager who was there about what he saw, he saw Newell take multiple items from the bathroom into his room, per the complaint.

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The camera was not in the bathroom when the teen boys checked the space again, according to the record.

The teens told their parents about the incident on the phone, who called law enforcement officials.

During an interview with investigators that same day, Newell told officials that 10 people had free access to the cabin and said he didn't know anything about the camera, despite the teenager seeing him leave the bathroom with miscellaneous items.

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Newell appeared to swallow an SD card following an interview with investigators

Newell was allowed to charge his phone after the interview, using an outlet near his bed, according to the complaint. Officials noticed him reach under his bed, pick something up, and then close his hand in a fist while he was charging his phone.

"Shortly after the investigator noticed Newell's right hand in a closed fist, Newell placed his right fist to his mouth and covered the bottom of his phone and mouth and began talking quietly," the complaint stated. "A few minutes later, the investigator heard a loud, distinguishable, 'crunch,' sound from the area of Newell's mouth."

Officials then found what appeared to be the same camera under Newell's bed, but the SD card slot was empty.

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The investigators took Newell to a hospital with a warrant for a CT scan the next day. The scan found a "possibly metallic foreign body within the small bowel."

During their investigation, officials found an external hard-drive of Newell's that "revealed numerous videos of minor males showering," as stated in the complaint. "In some of the videos, Newell is seen setting up the camera in the bathroom."

Two other teens also told investigators that Newell had checked them for ticks while they were naked, according to the complaint. Their claims were supported by video footage found on the hard-drive.

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The criminal complaint against Newell was closed following his death.

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