Police chief says child porn ‘research’ became ‘personal interest’: Feds

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

MOUNT PLEASANT, New York (PIX11) – How did a man of the law, the chief of the Mt. Pleasant police department in Westchester County go from teaching sex abuse awareness classes to elementary and middle school students, to viewing the illegal content to satisfy his own personal urges?

There are no specifics in the criminal complaint against Chief Brian Fanelli, who was arraigned in federal court Thursday evening.

But Department of Homeland Security agents say they caught the 54-year-old married father of two grown children red-handed.

“We identified Mr. Fanelli positively  as the person who was in possession of these files approximately one month ago,” said Special Agent James Hayes of U.S. Department of Homeland Security.  “And we moved very quickly given position of prominence within law enforcement and the community at large.”

In just a two month period between October and December 2013, investigators say Fanelli downloaded 114 child pornography images and videos onto his home computer using a peer-to-peer file sharing application.

The videos includes images of “prepubescent female children, one who appears to be under the age of ten.”

And file names that suggested same sex and incestuous content, like “13 and 12 year old brothers enjoy playing…and…we simply cannot say the rest of that file name on television.”

If the Mt. Pleasant police department, or Chief Fanelli’s name sounds familiar, that’s because officers from this department were involved in the fatal shooting of Pace University student Danroy Henry.

Fanelli was a lieutenant back then and Henry’s family accused him of falsifying details of the 2010 incident to protect one of his fellow officers. The family’s lawsuit is pending.

He now has bigger problems, potentially of his own making.

Federal investigators say after they read the police chief his Miranda rights, he went on to admit that  “at first, he viewed child pornography as research for the classes he was teaching, but shortly thereafter began viewing child pornography for personal interest.”

“The fact of the matter is, the general public impression of people who commit these crimes is an unemployed pervert in his mother’s basement. That’s not our experience. We’re finding that people who committee these crimes are educated professionals, people in many different fields. And unfortunately this is not the first law enforcement officer that we’ve arrested for this crime,” said Hayes.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.