|TRENTON – Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced that a South Jersey man pleaded guilty today to charges that he molested a teenage girl while she was sleeping and distributed child pornography on the Internet. The charges stemmed from a child pornography investigation by the New Jersey State Police and the Division of Criminal Justice.
Bernard Cahill, 55, of Gloucester Township (formerly of Folsom), pleaded guilty to second-degree charges of sexual assault and distribution of child pornography before Superior Court Judge Albert J. Garofolo in Atlantic County. Under the plea agreement, the state will recommend that Cahill be sentenced to 14 years in state prison. He faces seven years in prison for each of the two charges, with the sentences to be served consecutively. Cahill will be required to register as a sex offender under Megan’s Law and will be subject to parole supervision for life. In pleading guilty, Cahill admitted that he penetrated the 16-year-old victim sexually with his fingers while she slept. Deputy Attorney General Naju R. Lathia prosecuted Cahill and took the guilty plea for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau. Judge Garofolo scheduled sentencing for Cahill for Sept. 12.
Cahill initially was arrested in April 2012 in “Operation Watchdog,” a multi-agency investigation led by the New Jersey State Police and the Division of Criminal Justice that targeted offenders who distributed known images and videos of child pornography online. While investigating Cahill’s sharing of child pornography online, investigators discovered sexually explicit images in his computer that he had taken of a 16-year-old girl. Cahill lived in Folsom in Atlantic County at the time of the criminal conduct.
The state’s investigation revealed that, on multiple occasions, Cahill, who had access to the girl’s home, touched and penetrated the 16-year-old victim sexually with his fingers while she slept, and pulled aside her shorts or pulled up her shirt to take photos of her exposed private areas. He also placed her hand on his genitals while she slept. The investigation further revealed that, beginning when the victim was 13, Cahill spied on her and photographed her through her bedroom window while she was alone and naked. The child pornography charge relates to Cahill’s downloading and sharing of child pornography on the Internet. A forensic review of his computer revealed approximately 1,000 images and 300 videos of child pornography.
“Cahill malevolently used his access to the home of an innocent teenage girl to sexually assault her while she was asleep and utterly vulnerable to his depraved conduct,” said Acting Attorney General Hoffman. “We have ensured that this child predator will face a lengthy term behind bars, where he can’t harm other victims.”
“The defendants we arrest for sharing child pornography on the Internet often include offenders like Cahill who engage in additional predatory acts involving the sexual exploitation of children,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “When investigating child pornography, we will continue to pursue all leads to identify and protect child victims and to prosecute any crimes committed against them.”
“This young woman was violated by Cahill on multiple fronts, not only when he sexually assaulted her but also when he took explicit photographs of her to share online,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “This investigation and arrest should send a message that predators like Cahill will not be able to use the anonymity of a computer to hide from law enforcement.”
The investigation was conducted by the New Jersey State Police Digital Technology Investigations Unit and the Division of Criminal Justice Computer Analysis & Technology Unit. Operation Watchdog was conducted in partnership with other members of the New Jersey Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, including the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office and agents from ICE Homeland Security Investigations and the FBI.
Acting Attorney General Hoffman urged anyone who suspects improper contact by unknown persons communicating with children via the Internet or possible exploitation or sexual abuse of children to contact the New Jersey Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Tipline at 888-648-6007.