2008-07-18 / Front Page

Cyber-Sicko Charged

DA: Used Social Network Sites To Get Nude Pix
By Howard Schwach

A former Rockaway resident, who presently lives in Connecticut, was charged this week with child endangerment for having engaged in sexually explicit electronic communications with three young girls between the ages of 9 and 14, to induce them to send him nude photos of themselves and their young relatives.

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown has identified the man as Philip Hawthorne, 27, an unemployed man who now lives in Norwich, Connecticut, but formerly lived at 140 Beach 123 Street and 224 Beach 97 Street.

Locals familiar with Hawthorne told The Wave that he worked at Blockbuster Video on Beach 116 Street while he was still in Rockaway and tutored at Brooklyn College.

Officials of the Department of Education said that he had never worked for the public school system, although one informant, who asked not to be identified, said that Hawthorne worked as a substitute teacher at PS 114 in Belle Harbor several times in 2007.

According to court records, Hawthorne allegedly began communicating with a 13-year-old Massachusetts girl in November of 2007, while he still lived in Rockaway.

A spokesperson for Brown said that Hawthorne used a social networking site, pretending to be a 16-year-old Boston teen named Keith. The unnamed girl provided Hawthorne with personal details of her life and he convinced her to send him naked photographs of herself, as well as a video of herself and her 9- year-old sister, in which they were both naked and exhibited their genital and anal areas.

At one point, the court papers say, Hawthorne demanded a video of the girl "pooping on the toilet."

In February of 2008, court records show, Hawthorne allegedly communicated electronically with an unnamed 14- year-old Illinois girl, assuming the persona of a 16-year-old football player named Keith Singleton. He allegedly communicated with her through the Internet and through text-messaging, inducing her to send him nude photos of herself by telling her that he was interested in having a relationship with her.

He then asked her to make a video of herself taking off her clothes and showing her private parts.

He instructed her on what he wanted to see and hear, telling her to say, "Do you want this," and other sexually suggestive phrases.

When she refused to send him the video, court records allege, he told her that he would send the first sexually-explicit nude photos to her school and post them on the Internet.

He threatened to have her arrested should she not send him the video.

On July 22, a court-authorized search warrant was executed at 224 Beach 97 Street, the residence of Hawthorne's mother, Veronica Hawthorne.

During questioning, court records show, she allegedly admitted that her son had moved out, taking his computer and external storage media with him.

At a follow-up investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, she provided the information that Hawthorne had moved first to Beach 123 Street and then to his father's residence in Connecticut.

Hawthorne was arrested in Connecticut on July 2 and waived his extradition. He was returned to New York City for arraignment on July 7. Brown thanked law enforcement officials in Weymouth, (Massachusetts), Rock Island County (Illinois) and Norwich (Connecticut) for their cooperation.

One of the deponents in the criminal court papers is Detective Edward Williams of the Weymouth Police Department, who interviewed the 13-yearold girl and her 9-year-old sister. Another is Detective Donald Neece of the Rock Island County Sheriff's Department, who interviewed the Illinois girl.

Both Williams and Neece tracked the photos and videos to Hawthorne's Rockaway computer.

Working with detectives from the NYPD's computer unit, the two out-ofstate detectives tracked Hawthorne to his Rockaway address and the search warrant was issued, officials say.

Hawthorne was arraigned in Queens Criminal Court on three counts of the use of a child in a sexual performance; fourteen counts of promoting a sexual performance by a child; and three counts of endangering the welfare of a minor, a class A misdemeanor.

If convicted of the top counts, officials say, Hawthorne faces more than fifteen years in prison.

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