“I’m not a child pornographer,” insisted ex-election official before arrest – News – The Palm Beach Post
Authorities arrested Jeffrey Darter in November following a clash at the Palm Beach County Election Supervisor’s office in West Palm Beach. They say they later found more than 170 images on a phone he refused to give to investigators.
WEST PALM BEACH – “I am not a child pornographer.”
Jeff Darter was emphatic at the start of a 14-and-a-half-minute interview on November 13 with two detectives who came to question him about child pornography.
An audio recording, part of documents provided to the Palm Beach Post in late January by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, does not capture the stampede match with the two detectives which led to two assault and battery charges against an officer law enforcement.
It also led to Darter’s immediate dismissal from the office of the Palm Beach County Election Supervisor, where he had long been the CIO.
Five weeks later, on December 19, Darter, now 62, was charged with 30 counts of child pornography after prosecutors said they found more than 170 images of adults sexually assaulting children between the ages of infants to 6 years old.
Darter’s attorney, Michael Salnick, declined to discuss the audio file of the interview on Thursday.
“He (Darter) pleaded not guilty,” Salnick said. “We will schedule depositions and vigorously investigate the matter. Other than that, it would be inappropriate to make any further comment.”
Darter had worked for the county election bureau supervisor for 28 years and had been director there since 1999. His attorney said in December that Darter, a resident of Acreage, had lived in the area for four decades, that his wife had been a teacher. at Palm Beach State University and that he has a daughter and grandson living nearby.
A federal investigator had alerted local authorities that someone, using an Internet account tracked by Darter, uploaded an image to a mobile chat app showing an adult male sexually assaulting a girl who appeared to be 4 to 6 years old.
On November 13, PBSO Detective Malory Wildove and West Palm Beach Police Detective Cathy Cognetti, who are part of the South Florida Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, attended the office of the elections and had a break room to speak with Darter.
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In the audio, Darter calmly acknowledged a recitation of his anti-self-discrimination rights and answered detectives’ standard questions: date of birth, address, etc.
But almost right away, Darter was asked if he was using the KIK chat app.
“Not that I know of,” he said. But when asked for his KIK password, he refused.
Wildove asked about the only image that was uploaded to KIK on his internet account. Darter said, “I don’t use KIK. I don’t know. I’m not a child pornographer. No.”
When asked if he had ever seen child pornography, he replied “I did”, adding that “other people have had things they showed me”, but that ‘he wasn’t interested.
When asked to define child pornography, he replied, “I guess it would be underage children or something … naked or whatever.”
Wildove: “Sexual conduct? “
Darter: “Oh, okay. Okay.”
Of the only image uploaded to KIK, Wildove said, “We just want to make sure that it’s gone and that you aren’t actually in contact with anyone. It’s just something. thing you watched. “
Darter replied, “I don’t know. But, you know, it’s not mine. It’s not at all interesting to me. It’s not my thing.”
Pressed by his previous encounters with child pornography, he said it was about 20 years ago when the election office was in downtown West Palm Beach, before moving to Military Trail and Southern Boulevard.
A colleague “was starting a website to do this sort of thing,” he said. “Pornography of all kinds. He was showing me his website. I wasn’t amused.”
Darter declined to name the man. Wildove said, “Why would you protect someone who is interested in child pornography?
“I’m not protecting them. It just isn’t part of the conversation. It was 20 years ago. I’m sure they don’t anymore,” Darter replied.
Wildove said: “I highly doubt it.”
Darter replied, “I highly doubt they are. But whatever. Your opinion is welcome.”
His cell phone
He again insisted that he did not own any child pornography. When asked if detectives could search his phone at the time, he refused.
When asked why not, he replied, “I think it takes something more than just giving you permission, doesn’t it?”
Darter still refused.
Wildove said, “Okay. So there’s probably some evidence of child pornography on your phone.”
“I’m not saying that at all. I don’t think I want to give you permission to access my phone,” Darter said.
Darter was asked if he swore everything he said was the truth.
“Absolutely,” he said.
Wildove: “Just to let you know. We’ve been alerted now that you’ve done it. So you’re on our radar at the Sheriff’s Office. So if you’re still doing it, I suggest you stop.”
Wildove continued, “Because if we’re alerted again that you own (or) transmit child pornography, you’re going to have a major problem.”
Darter: “I shouldn’t have. But thank you.”
A written supplement states that Wildove noticed at one point that Darter “got nervous and started using his cell phone, frantically texting, scrolling and tapping his screen.”
She wrote: “It seemed to me that he may have deleted evidence of the crime from his cell phone. Therefore, I grabbed Darter’s phone, a Samsung S9, in his hand. Darter pushed me away and attempted to pick up the phone from my possession. He then pushed (Inspector) Cognetti when she tried to intervene. “
This led to the assault charges.
Investigators said they later obtained a search warrant and, with the help of U.S. Secret Service investigators, were able to unlock the phone, where they found the footage.
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