NH man accused of taking illicit photos in bathroom won’t face child porn charges

Posted March 06, 2014, at 7:03 a.m.

ROCHESTER, N.H. — Conor Makem, a former reporter for the Rochester Times newspaper accused of placing a hidden camera in a workplace women’s bathroom, will not face child pornography charges in relation to images found on one of his work computers, Rochester police revealed Wednesday.

Police Chief Michael Allen said Makem, who is facing 19 charges of invasion of privacy relating to taking illicit photos in a workplace bathroom, along with one count of falsifying physical evidence, would face no child pornography charges after a thorough investigation into both his personal and work computers.

Rochester police were helped in their investigation by the FBI, which was assisting in the attempt to recover damaged hard drives from Makem’s personal computer. Allen said the FBI told him three weeks ago that Makem’s personal computer hard drives had been so damaged in efforts to destroy the content they could not rebuilt sufficiently to bring charges.

“I was disappointed to learn the FBI could not get images from the hard drive taken from his home because of the damage,” Allen said.

Foster’s Daily Democrat has made weekly calls to the Rochester Police Department for updates, but it was not until Wednesday that the information from the FBI was shared with the newspaper. Allen said Rochester police will continue to pursue the 20 other charges against Makem.

Capt. Paul Toussaint said Wednesday although detectives recovered images of child pornography from Makem’s designated work computer, they would not be able to bring charges because it was accessible to others.

“Yes, there were child porn images on the work computer,” Toussaint said. “It’s an old computer that’s been the property of the Rochester Times for awhile now. He didn’t have exclusive access to it. We are unable to positively tie any child pornography to him.”

When Allen was asked if the determination that Makem could not be charged with child porn on his work computers because others had access could be damaging to the invasion of privacy charges, Allen said there are different standards for the making of child porn charges and the charges for invasion of privacy will stand.

Affidavits from Detective Kenneth Tapscott’s investigation detail some of the findings from a forensic analysis of Makem’s personal Apple MacBook Pro and an iMac computer seized from his workplace in October. During the search of the iMac work computer, Tapscott “uncovered several dozens images of child pornography,” according to the affidavit. Another affidavit concerning a forensic analysis of Makem’s personal Apple MacBook Pro revealed to investigators approximately 80 images from a women’s bathroom at the Merchant’s Plaza building.

“We don’t anticipate any further charges at this point,” Toussaint said.

Police arrested Makem on Oct. 17, 2013 on 12 original charges of invasion of privacy relating to one victim. Makem was then released on bail before being re-arrested on Oct. 25 after police identified five more victims in pictures taken by the hidden camera. Makem was again released on $10,000 bail.

Makem’s Irish passport was confiscated and he signed a waiver of extradition.

According to affidavits seeking a search warrant on Makem’s Dover residence, investigators also found images of child pornography on his computer, in addition to the photos of victims from the bathroom.

Makem was a part-time reporter for the weekly Rochester Times and Foster’s Daily Democrat and worked out of the news bureau of the Times and Foster’s, which had been located in the Merchants’ Plaza building. Foster’s publishes the Rochester Times. Foster’s terminated Makem’s employment following the arrest.

The building, at 1 Old Dover Road, formerly housed the shared “Foster’s Daily Democrat” and “Rochester Times” office, which had been leased. The office has since been relocated to the second floor of the Rochester Chamber of Commerce building at 18 South Main St.

On Oct. 7, 2013 a woman using the bathroom at the Merchant’s Plaza building at 1 Old Dover Road reported finding what she thought was a camera in the ceiling. Makem reportedly claimed the device was actually not a camera and said he threw it in a nearby dumpster before police could look at it.

According to a police affidavit, after noticing the camera, the woman, unsure what to do, explained the issue to Makem and showed him the device. According to the affidavit, the woman told police Makem tugged on the device, and “it appeared to be a small black camera like the one you would find on a game system about the size of an eraser with a soldered wire to what appeared to be a 1-inch by 1-inch computer circuit board and another wire soldered to what looked to be a silver flat rectangular shaped battery.”

The woman then realized she was late for an appointment, and she and Makem agreed he would call the police and report the incident. According to the woman’s statements to police, around 4:54 p.m. Monday Makem left her a voice mail, stating he reported the incident to police and turned the device over to them. After a couple of hours, the woman called police and learned Makem “never actually called the police about this camera nor turned it in,” according to her statements described in the affidavit.

After a search of Makem’s workplace and home, he was subsequently arrested on Oct. 17, and then again on Oct. 25.

Distributed by MCT Information Services

 

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