Bonek arraignment

Edward James Bonek, 49, of Absecon, appears in court with attorney John Zarych before Atlantic County Superior Court Judge Benjamin Podolnick to enter a plea of not guilty in November.

MAYS LANDING — Attorneys representing a local high school principal charged with possessing and sharing child pornography online are hoping to learn more about the methods used by law enforcement to find the alleged files.

Edward James Bonek, 49, of Absecon, was arrested and charged in August with possession of more than 1,000 images of child pornography, which authorities say he downloaded and shared online through his work-issued laptop. He was principal at Pleasantville High School.

Bonek’s attorney, John Zarych, filed a motion last week to have law enforcement disclose the program or tool used to extract the alleged pornographic files from the laptop so they may prepare an effective defense.

“We made the request long ago, but they have not complied with our request and we had no alternative but to file the motion,” Zarych said.

Zarych said Bonek didn’t know the files he was downloading contained child pornography, that they were not labeled as such, and that Bonek never opened the filed, nor did he share them.

“This case is unlike many cases because the pornography apparently came into my client’s computer through a general search along with vast amounts of legal material,” Zarych said. “The way the various police departments and the Prosecutor’s Office acquired this pornography from his computer was by use of this investigative tool, which is essentially hacking his computer and extracting material that he had never seen.”

Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon G. Tyner declined to comment on the motion.

In January, Atlantic County Superior Court Judge Benjamin Podolnick granted Zarych’s request to review the computer data obtained by law enforcement that led to the charges. Zarych hoped he could prove through analyzing the data that it was never opened by Bonek.

Last month, Podolnick denied a motion made in March by Zarych to have Bonek’s detention hearing reopened.

The latest motion will be heard Aug. 19. No trial date has been set. Bonek remains in the Cape May County jail, where he has been held since his detention hearing last year.

Contact: 609-272-7251 CLowe@pressofac.com 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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