Westport Library employee charged with possessing child pornography
WESTPORT — A Westport Library employee found in possession of child pornography has been arrested, police said.
Robert Kelly, manager of collection curation at the library, turned himself in to police Monday after a warrant for his arrest was issued Jan. 26 following a months-long investigation by state and local police. A search of Kelly’s Westport home found 45 images of child pornography on his electronic devices, police said.
“We are shocked and saddened by this news. The safety of the library patrons, staff and the community is a priority for us,” said Westport Library Executive Director Bill Harmer in a statement Monday. “The moment we were made aware of this investigation, we immediately restricted Mr. Kelly’s access to the library and its property and instructed him not to perform his duties.
“This is now a police matter being handled by the Westport Police Department,” Harmer added. “As soon as we have an opportunity as an employer to move forward, we will do so.”
Westport Police first received information in late August from State Police that an unidentified person in Westport shared a picture of child pornography on Facebook with an unidentified out-of-state resident.
Sgt. Sereniti Dobson, of the Westport Police Youth Division, initiated an investigation and identified the suspect as Kelly, 43, a Westport resident.
Detective David Aresco, an investigator with the Connecticut State Police Computer Crimes Unit, which tipped off the Westport Police to Kelly’s behavior, did not comment on Kelly’s case specifically but shared how cases of his type are generally discovered. Internet providers, such as Facebook, are mandated to report child pornography to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, per federal statute. The center, in turn, then reports the cases to the appropriate state’s computer crimes unit, which in turn passes off the information to local police, who complete the investigation.
Sgt. Richard Alexandre, commander of the Connecticut State Police Computer Crimes Unit, confirmed his unit was informed of Kelly’s behavior by a cyber tip reported by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Members of the Westport Detective Bureau, with assistance from the Technical Investigation Unit of Southwest Connecticut, executed a search warrant at Kelly’s residence on Jan. 16 during which they seized various electronic devices. A later examination of the devices revealed they contained at least 45 images of child pornography.
The devices are still being forensically examined at this time and police confirmed that, as of now, all of Kelly’s child pornography was found on his personal devices and not on devices owned by, or located at, the library.
Upon turning himself in, Kelly was charged with second-degree possession of child pornography, promoting obscene performance, and obscenity. He was released after posting a $100,000 bond and is to appear in Norwalk Superior Court Feb. 7.
Kelly’s attorney, Stamford criminal lawyer Mark Sherman, said it’s premature to comment on case specifics.
“Defending these Connecticut child pornography charges will require us to review police reports and forensic data over the next few months before deciding how to proceed in court,” Sherman said. “Robert is an accomplished librarian with no criminal history whatsoever, so it’s critical to appreciate these are just accusations at this point in time.”