EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

May 13, 2013

Child porn charge against Salem man dropped

By Doug Ireland
direland@eagletribune.com

---- — BRENTWOOD — Only weeks before his trial was scheduled to begin, a child pornography charge against a Salem man has been dropped.

Although police said 15 pornographic files were found on a computer at the home of Troy Thompson, he only faced one charge.

But that charge, based on a single photographic image, is not being prosecuted in Rockingham Superior Court because doubts arose about the age of a person in the image, according to County Attorney James Reams.

The prosecution alleged the image was of a child engaging in a sexual act. The defense claimed it was an adult. Thompson, 68, faced 7 1/2 to 15 years in state prison if convicted at his trial, schedulded for June 17.

”We dropped the case because our expert on the age of the child changed their opinion, which left us no option,” Reams said.

That expert was Dr. Liliane Sznycer of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Nashua, a pediatrician who specializes in dealing with domestic violence and child abuse cases. She could not be reached for comment.

Reams said his office could pursue a new charge against Thompson, but he wants to review the case again before making a decision. That includes reviewing Sznycer’s deposition, he said.

Reams said Thompson only faced a single charge because it was not clear if the people in the 14 other pornographic images were children.

”You have to prove they are under the age of 18,” he said.

Thompson and his attorney, Steven Shadallah, recently disputed the age of the person in the single image. They claimed in a court motion that the image only showed a rear view of a torso — from the shoulders to the buttocks.

They solicited opinions from Dr. Arlan Rosenbloom, a Florida pediatric endocrinologist, and computer expert Thomas Workman to help prove their contention.

Shadallah said he and Thompson were happy that justice prevailed. He said proving the image showed a child presented “some prosecutorial challenges.”

”It’s a big relief for my client,” Shadallah said. “It’s been a difficult period of time for him. He’s hoping this is put behind him.”

The case was investigated by Salem police and the New Hampshire Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

Authorities searched Thompson’s Mascoma Road home Jan. 5., 2012, seizing computers, hard drives and other electronic media.

But Thompson, a former systems technician for The Eagle-Tribune and its affiliated publications, was not arrested until six months later. He remained free on $10,000 personal recognizance bail.

Thompson admitted to investigators he downloaded child pornography, viewed the files and deleted them, according to an affidavit. He also told investigators he had “chats involving having sexual relations with children,” the affidavit said.

Three weeks ago, Shadallah successfully argued in a court motion that none of Thompson’s statements to investigators that day should be admitted as evidence because they were irrelevant to the single image. Judge Marguerite Wageling agreed.