Accused of sexually exploiting children, a Maryland judge was recently found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound before federal investigators could arrest him.
On July 23, a boy that Caroline County Circuit Court Judge Jonathan Newell took on a hunting trip on Hoopers Island discovered a hidden camera in the bathroom. After the boy told his parents about the camera, they immediately reported it to the police.
On July 24, the police raided Judge Newell’s home, judicial office, and truck. They allegedly found a hard drive in Newell’s den that contained several videos of boys showering, Newell checking a boy’s nude body for ticks, and images of Newell setting up the camera.
According to law enforcement officials, Newell attempted to destroy evidence by eating the memory card from his camera. After police took Newell to a hospital, they obtained a warrant to have a CT scan performed, which revealed a “foreign object” had been ingested.
Two days later, Judge Newell took a paid leave of absence. Last week, he extended the leave to September 23.
Shortly after 6 a.m. on Friday, FBI agents arrived at Newell’s house to arrest him on federal charges of sexual exploitation of a child. Neighbors reportedly heard a gunshot from inside the house before the FBI agents entered.
Later that day, the U.S. Attorney’s Office released the following statement: “This morning agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation went to the residence of Jonathan Newell, age 50, of Henderson, Maryland, to arrest him on a federal criminal complaint filed on September 9, 2021. Upon entering the residence the agents found Newell suffering from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was pronounced dead at 6:43 a.m. Maryland State Police will lead the investigation into the apparent suicide.”
Appointed to the bench in 2016, Newell was elevated to a 15-year term in 2018. He had also been a leading prosecutor in the county since 2003.