WESTFIELD — An 83-year-old Westfield man has been arrested after materials depicting child sexual abuse and exploitation were discovered in his possession earlier this week.
According to a press release issued by the Westfield Police Department, William Maher, of Topping Hill Road, was arrested by the New Jersey State Police Internet Crimes Against Children Unit following an early-morning raid of his residence on May 16.
The search warrant was executed by the New Jersey State Police with assistance from detectives from the Union County Prosecutor’s Office and Westfield Police Department.
The nature of the illicit materials has not been made public.
Maher was transported to the Westfield Police Department, where he was processed, served with a complaint-summonses for 2C:24-4B(5)(b)(iii) — Possession of Child Sexual Abuse/Exploitation Material, a crime of the third degree — and released on his own recognizance pending a future court appearance.
The New Jersey State Police is the lead department of the federal Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force for the State of New Jersey. It is responsible for conducting investigations of offenders who utilize computers and computer technology for the purpose of exploiting children. It also conducts proactive and reactive investigations into the endangerment of children.
According to information provided by the Westfield Police Department, “these cases most often come in the form of child sexual abuse/exploitation material or luring of a child.”
Maher’s arrest is the second of its kind in Union County this month. According to information provided by the Office of the Attorney General (AG), a 21-year-old Summit man, Sean Lynch, was arrested on similar charges on May 10.
“From Nov. 9, 2022, through Nov. 14, 2022, Lynch allegedly used an instant messaging mobile application to distribute to other individuals 72 videos depicting the sexual abuse of children,” the Attorney General’s office wrote in a press release.
The count of distribution of child pornography carries a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison, a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, and a fine of $250,000.
Lynch appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jessica S. Allen in Newark federal court and was released on a $100,000 unsecured bond, with home detention and electronic monitoring.
The Westfield Police Department advises that individuals who wish to report a case of child endangerment, in which the suspect or victim lives in New Jersey, to call the New Jersey State Police Computer Crimes Task Force Hotline at 1-(888) 648-6007.
Those who want to report an instance of child endangerment utilizing a web reporting system, or if they are unsure as to the location of the child, are asked to utilize the CyberTipline Reporting System sponsored by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) at www.ncmec.org.
The NCMEC acts as a clearinghouse for information received from various sources and distributes it to law enforcement. As the lead department for the federal Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force for the State of New Jersey, the New Jersey State Police receives all cyber tips linked to New Jersey.