Deal Possible in Child Pornography Case
Christopher Rothrock, 45, of Nazareth waives his right to a preliminary hearing as his defense lawyer attempts to reach a plea deal with the district attorney's office.
A Nazareth man who allegedly solicited a 12-year-old girl to send nude photos of herself to him waived his right to a preliminary hearing before District Judge John Capobianco Tuesday in exchange for a possible plea deal.
Christopher Rothrock, 45, was charged in January with 100 counts of possessing images of child pornography, one count of criminal solicitation and one count of corruption of a minor.
The girl's parents contacted police in February 2011 after they found inappropriate text messages on their daughter’s cell phone. Officer Jacob Abel found that Rothrock had contacted the girl 25 times through text and picture messaging.
After police obtained a search warrant, they were able to see that Rothrock searched -- using his smartphone -- for “preteen nude girls” and “10 & 12 yo nude girls.”
Police say they also found several video files and thousands of image files depicting child pornography on several electronic devices in Rothrock's possession.
On Jan. 11, 2012, Rothrock admitted that the images were his.
No specifics of a possible deal were agreed upon by defense attorney Christopher Shipman and Assistant District Attorney Patricia Broscius, but both indicated some of the charges might be downgraded to third-degree felonies, instead of second-degree charges.
“The DA's office will consider resolving this matter,” Broscius said.
However, Broscius pressed for additional conditions for Rothrock's bail, set at an unsecured $75,000. Capobianco agreed and ordered Rothrock to have no unsupervised contact with minors, including his longtime girlfriend's 13-year-old daughter.
“The girl is the same age as the victim in this matter,” Broscius noted. “It's not even his biological daughter.”
Rothrock, who lived with his girlfriend and her daughter until he was charged, is currently residing in Hellertown. He is expected to undergo a court-ordered mental evaluation in the coming weeks.
Authorities also agreed to potentially return a laptop, an iPod and two camera cards that were seized as evidence to the girlfriend's daughter, who is not involved in the case. They indicated the devices have been searched by police experts.
“She needs them for school,” the girlfriend said.
Rothrock's laptop and other equipment will remain in police custody until the case is resolved.
If found guilty on all counts as they stand, Rothrock faces a maximum of $45,000 in fines and up to 20 years in prison. He has no former criminal record.
A formal arraignment is set for Thursday, May 17 at 9 a.m. at the Northampton County Courthouse.