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Before camera was found in judge's hunting cabin, parents of boy he took on trips had conversations about safety

Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Sun on

Published in News & Features

The Sun is not naming the parents or their child since he is the victim of a sexual crime.

His mother said she did not know Newell before he made a friend request to her two years ago, out of the blue, on Facebook. Newell already knew boys who her son was friends with, and saw him tagged on their posts.

She accepted the request, and Newell began liking and making light-hearted comments on pictures of her son. She exchanged messages with him — nothing too personal.

In hindsight, “he kind of groomed me to get to my son,” she said.

Then Newell asked if her son wanted to go on a hunting trip.

“I was like, ‘Well I don’t really know you, would your wife and kids like to come over for dinner first?’” she recalled.

 

That’s when he confided that he was going through a divorce, she said. Newell and his wife divorced last year, court records show. Instead, he came by the house and they talked in the driveway.

The woman’s husband, who also hunts, said the destination on Hoopers Island was a “phenomenal hunting property, the best of the best.”

“I’ve taken kids hunting before — it’s what you do,” he said. “I blame myself a little bit for letting him go, in hindsight, but if you can’t trust your kid with a judge, who can you trust?”

Why not take his own kids? Newell’s sons were either away or uninterested, he told them.

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