Former Army photographer charged with child porn loses kids in divorce
By: Darrell Todd Maurina
Posted: Friday, May 21, 2010 8:49 pm
Benjamin Morrow faces seven felony child pornography charges.
SAINT ROBERT, Mo. (May 21, 2010) — A St. Robert man had a reason for not appearing at his divorce case Friday morning: he hasn’t been able to post a $500,000 cash-only bond on seven felony child pornography charges and was in jail three floors below the courtroom in the Pulaski County Jail.
Benjamin Roy Morrow, 42, is an Army veteran with 14 years of service and had been an official photographer as a civilian employee at Fort Leonard Wood before his Jan. 28 arrest on seven separate Class B felony charges accusing him of knowingly or recklessly possessing obscene material involving sexual conduct of minors under 18 years old. Each of the seven charges could lead to him spending five to 15 years in state prison.
Investigators said in court documents that Morrow not only possessed pornographic images depicting children in sexual acts but also “made them available to others to download via the internet.”
In the divorce documents approved Friday, Associate Circuit Judge Greg Warren took steps that will ensure Morrow has little if any contact with his two children.
Morrow’s wife separated from her husband on Jan. 8, according to court documents. She has since changed her name, no longer lives in or near St. Robert, and is allowed by the divorce decree to move out of state. She is not being named because she has been charged with no crime and may be a crime victim.
Morrow’s former wife will have sole custody of the two children, both of whom are under 5 years old. While court records state that Morrow told police that “his interest was in girls 9-12 years old,” investigators found 871 files “of obvious, known or likely child exploitation” on Morrow’s computer and noted that “at least 20 of the images are of very young children, obviously less than 5 years of age.” Creation dates for the pornography date back to 2005, about a year after he married his wife, with movies “primarily of pubescent and pre-pubescent children engaged in sex acts with adults or other children.” According to court records, “at least two of the movies involved children observably less than 5 years of age.”
Morrow currently faces no criminal charges of sexual abuse against his own children, but according to court documents, Warren issued a legal ruling based on evidence presented in the divorce case that Morrow “has inflicted multiple episodes of physical abuse upon both children” and also made a legal finding “based upon the testimony of (his wife, that she) believes that Benjamin (Morrow) has perpetrated acts of sexual abuse upon the children, based upon statements made by the children and upon physical examination of the children.”
In addition, Warren ruled that Morrow “has assaulted (his) wife and perpetrated domestic violence and abuse upon (her) by throwing her to the floor, choking her, restraining her through wrist holds, and throwing her against the wall while (he) was in a rage on several different occasions.”
Based upon the parenting plan filed by Morrow’s wife and those legal findings, Warren ruled that Morrow’s former wife “shall not be required to provide any school records or other information about the children’s education” to Morrow, “shall not be required to provide any medical information,” “shall make all decisions as to child care providers,” and otherwise will have sole legal and physical custody of the children.
Morrow’s visitation rights are limited to supervised visitation with a week’s prior notice, no overnight visitation, and even then only with his former wife’s consent and after completing “a court-approved course of rehabilitation for sexual abuse, physical abuse, and a course directed toward improving or establishing parenting skills.”
Most of the couple’s marital property was divided, leaving Morrow with more than $10,000 in credit card and other debt as well as responsibility for a repossessed car, along with personal possessions and any military pension to which he may be entitled, plus an order to pay child support if he gets out of prison. His former wife will receive camera equipment considered to be marital property of unspecified value.
Morrow’s criminal case is scheduled for a two-day jury trial beginning Sept. 22 with an Aug. 4 pre-trial conference.