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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

Newell took their son infrequently — one or two hunting trips per year, with a couple of fishing trips as well when Newell said he was going to cut the grass at the Hoopers Island property, the boy’s parents said. They’d grab something to eat at Old Salty’s, a restaurant on the narrow chain of islands in Dorchester County. Other pairs of kids would be taken on other weekends, the parents said.

Their son never went with Newell alone. He “loved going and hanging out with his buddies,” his mother said. Newell checked in regularly, sending pictures to the parents and posting on Facebook, where Newell often uploaded posts about mentoring boys from the community.

“Everything was fine, until it wasn’t fine,” the boy’s mother said.

When the text message came on the morning of July 23, the boy’s parents contacted the parents of the other boy who also was on the trip. That boy’s father has law enforcement experience, and he advised them not to head straight to the hunting lodge but to arrive with police. It’s all got to be done by the book, that father explained, and they went to a police station in Denton.

As the parents arrived at the hunting lodge, “the cops came right up behind us, seven cars all at once,” recalled the father of the boy who found the camera.

“You could tell from his (Newell’s) expressions and body language that someone took the wind out of his sails,” he said.

 

The father said he is relieved that his son had a cell phone, not only so he could notify them what was going on but take a picture of the camera where it was found, so it could be provided to the police.

“I was one of them parents who says, ‘why does a kid need a cell phone?’” he said. “This whole scenario right here, it’s worth every penny that we paid for.”

Their son is relieved that he won’t have to go to court, but his parents say the breach of trust will linger.

“My son looked up to Jonathan as a mentor — thought he was wonderful — and I’m pretty sure he’s not going to trust many people,” his father said. “It’s going to be hard.”

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