The Pleasantville High School principal accused of possessing more than 1,000 images of child pornography on a work-issued laptop has been indicted, according to his attorney.

Edward James Bonek, 48, of Absecon, is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday before Judge Benjamin Podolnick for an arraignment, Bonek’s attorney, John Zarych, said Tuesday.

“It’s unfortunate that the case was presented to the grand jury before we had the opportunity to obtain discovery and especially before we had the opportunity to demonstrate to the prosecutor and to the court that this material was never viewed by Mr. Bonek,” Zarych said, confirming the indictment.

The Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office was not available for comment, and the Atlantic County Criminal Records department was closed for Election Day.

Bonek has been held at Cape May County jail since his arrest in August. He is being held there instead of Atlantic County due to his position in the community and possible links to inmates in the local facility, officials have said. Zarych said he is still awaiting word on a petition to the New Jersey Supreme Court appealing Bonek’s detention.

“It’s in the Supreme Court’s discretion. It’s a matter of how urgent they feel it is,” he said.

Bonek has been an employee in Pleasantville for about two decades in various capacities. He has been principal of the high school since 2017, for which he earned $131,000 a year. Prior to that, he served as interim principal in 2016. He has been suspended since his arrest.

Bonek was charged with first-degree possession and distribution of child pornography and official misconduct for allegedly using a school-issued laptop to download and share more than 1,000 images and videos depicting child abuse and sexual exploitation. He faces a mandatory 10 years in prison.

Zarych has maintained that Bonek did not intentionally download child pornography, but instead intended to download adult pornography. He said law-enforcement agencies have denied a request for information about the programs used to extract the pornography from Bonek’s computer, which Zarych disagrees with. He said he plans to show that going forward with this case is a mistake.

“We’re confident that Mr. Bonek will be shown to be innocent, and I believe that that will happen before any trial,” Zarych said.

Contact: 609-272-7251 Twitter @clairelowe

Staff Writer

I began covering South Jersey in 2008 after graduating from Rowan University with a degree in journalism. I joined The Press in 2015. In 2013, I was awarded a NJPA award for feature writing as a reporter for The Current of Hamilton Township.

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