MAYS LANDING — The high school principal charged with possession of child pornography on his work-issued laptop did not make a plea as anticipated Wednesday as lawyers are still going through the evidence.

“We have some more discovery work between us,” said John Zarych, the defense attorney for Edward James Bonek.

According to court records, Bonek, 48, of Absecon, was indicted Oct. 23 on seven counts including possession and distribution of more than 1,000 images of child pornography, official misconduct and unlawful possession of an assault firearm and high-capacity magazine.

Although Atlantic County Assistant Prosecutor David Ruffenach said he would be willing to move forward with a plea while discovery was being worked out, Zarych told Superior Court Judge Benjamin Podolnick that he wanted to use the excludable time allowed under criminal justice reform rules.

“We just want to get it right before we start the clock,” he said.

Zarych said Tuesday he was still missing discovery and that an appeal of Bonek’s detention to the New Jersey Supreme Court had not been resolved.

Bonek, who has been incarcerated since his August arrest, appeared for his arraignment Wednesday, his face clean shaven and his demeanor positive. His wife, father and other supporters made up two rows of the gallery. As Bonek exited the courtroom, he turned back and whispered to his family.

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. He faces a mandatory 10 years in prison.

Zarych said Bonek did not intentionally download child pornography when he was downloading adult pornography, and never viewed the child pornography.

He also said the material was not made shareable through the peer-to-peer file-sharing network BitTorrent as the prosecution claims.

“This material was taken from his computer by law-enforcement agencies who track child pornography from computer to computer throughout the world,” Zarych said Tuesday. “We believe a thorough analysis of his computer will determine that he did not knowingly download this material.”

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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