CHEVY CHASE, Md. - A Montgomery County man has been charged with production of child pornography, officials said.
Jonathan Oldale, 54, was arrested by federal agents Friday after memory cards from cameras seized from his Chevy Chase home during a search warrant that was conducted last July revealed that he had filmed hundreds of videos of children taking off their clothes or bathing suits, taking showers or getting dressed in the bathroom of his house. Officials say there were at least 30 children recorded.
An investigation by Montgomery County police and the FBI also discovered children attended "splash parties" at Oldale's home, and according to a witness, he made children take showers before they went home.
"I'm happy to know he won't do this to any other children, but I just feel for the children he did victimize," said Cherie Hope, owner of Silver Star Gymnastics and Fitness Club in Silver Spring.
It was thanks to an employee at the club that the investigation into Oldale began in the first place.
"The police told me without us cooperating with them, they would have never got all the information they got," explained Hope.
Police say last May, the employee discovered a camera hidden inside a backpack found inside the club's restroom, which was determined to belong to Oldale.
After several months of investigating, an arrest warrant was obtained in October for the incident and Oldale turned himself in to police. He was charged with conducting visual surveillance of another person in a private place without consent.
"Thankfully, they said he didn't record anything here," said Hope. "He may have tried, but wasn't successful. Our systems in place worked. It's just like the adage, 'If you see something, say something.'"
Despite Oldale's arrest, Hope took additional safety measures and participated in training classes to help give parents the tools they need to keep their kids safe. She said she is disgusted by the newest charges.
"He was a trusted member of the Somerset community and lots of parents trusted him in his neighborhood," said Hope. "It's frightening to think that you can't trust your friends and neighbors."
Police say a digital forensic examination of electronic equipment seized from Oldale's home in a previous search warrant executed in May found that there was a program used to delete files from his computers and that a browser was installed for anonymous communication and access to the "dark web."
"In addition, the forensic analysis uncovered various computer artifacts indicating that the user had accessed files with names indicative of child exploitation material," the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a news release. "Forensic analysis also revealed references to a known, but then-defunct website from the "dark web" that had provided users access to child pornography. The website had been shut down by law enforcement in December 2016."
Oldale faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.
Montgomery County Public Schools superintendent Jack Smith said in a letter to parents that many of the children that were allegedly recorded attended schools in Montgomery County. Smith wrote:
Dear MCPS Community:
I am writing to share disturbing news that impacts our community. Today, April 13, 2018, we were informed that federal agents arrested Jonathan Oldale, a Montgomery County resident and parent, on charges of production of child pornography. While the charges are connected to Mr. Oldale's private residence, they involve dozens of school-aged children, many of whom attend MCPS schools. It is alleged that Mr. Oldale videotaped children during parties that he hosted at his home.
As you may remember, Mr. Oldale was arrested by the Montgomery County Police Department in October 2017 for conducting visual surveillance of an individual at a local gym without his/her consent. After being made aware of this arrest, MCPS immediately conducted a search of the schools where Mr. Oldale had students enrolled. No cameras or surveillance devices were found. Additionally, we issued a no trespass order banning Mr. Oldale from all MCPS property.
According to law enforcement, Mr. Oldale has been detained.
I am outraged by this behavior and I know that our community finds the allegations in the charging documents as disturbing and upsetting as I do.
Our thoughts are with the victims and their families. We will have Student Services staff available to provide counseling and support to students and families as needed.
Please contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation at 410-265-8080 should you have any questions or information that may be helpful to the investigation.