The Maryland State Police Computer Crime Lab was forced to delay analyzing electronic devices for former Charles County school aide, Carlos Bell. The HIV positive man was arrested early this month, after being accused of abusing at least ten boys and making child pornography at his place of employment.
The investigation was opened into Bell in December of last year after the Charles County Sherriff’s office received a tip that Bell was sending inappropriate text messages to a male student. At this point, investigators admit they have found no evidence that the boy was sexually abused. Bell’s electronic devices were confiscated and taken to the Maryland State Police Computer Lab for analysis.
The lab admits the backlog left them paralyzed. It took approximately five months, before the analysis was started. It would be several more weeks before Bell would be put behind bars. Assistant commanders of the technical investigations section, Sgt. John Linton, recently spoke about the department’s status.
“Right now we have approximately 14 cases in the backlog. So that is probably about several months of backlog cases.” Linton confirmed that the state only has four forensic examiners to handle cases from all around the state. Many of the cases involved child sex crimes. He went on to confirm that the department always put cases first, when they feel there is an imminent danger.
“Any case where we feel someone is in imminent danger, we give that a priority one label and try to bump that up. The difficult thing for us is that lately, we have so many priority one type cases coming in that recently that’s all we are working.”
Linton went on to admit that his department’s slow progress would likely be frowned upon. However, he wants residents of Maryland to know that the case they’re working are horrible. “Another case the examiner was also working was an actual child sex abuse case. So it’s not that we didn’t recognize the seriousness of this case, but we are trying to balance and work it into a caseload that already involves very serious allegations and potential danger to children.”
Linton revealed that Bell’s computer contained over 150,000 images. After the department’s initial assessment, approximately 3,000 video files needed to be reviewed. After the reviewable, alarming evidence was discovered. Linton also admitted that seeing children abused could have a psychological impact. Last year, the lab took a total of 131 cases. This year, they’re on track to hit 180.
Linton went on to confirm that more people were needed to aid in the investigation.