It was revealed Wednesday in Benton District Court that a former Benton firefighter allegedly confessed to authorities that he specifically searched for and downloaded child pornography to a computer in his home.
Timothy Ryan Bodkin, 38, who appeared via satellite from the Saline County jail, is facing 1,000 counts of felony possession of child pornography. He is being held on a $200,000 sheriff's bond.
Benton attorney Brent Standridge, who is now representing Bodkin, requested a "significant" bond reduction for his client in the proceeding conducted by Judge Mike Robinson. However, at the end of the hearing, Robinson said that he would review applicable law and would call Standridge and Saline County Deputy Prosecutor Rebecca Bush, who represents the state, at some point today on whether Bodkin's bond will be reduced.
Judge Parker Jones presided in the June 22 hearing when the $200,000 bond was set. Robinson also later said that "Judge Parker is capable of making judgments."
As of press time, Robinson has not given his ruling on the bond issue.
Standridge called three character witnesses to the stand in Bodkin's defense. Tommy Bodkin testified that his brother has no criminal history, is a dependable employee, "never got out of line," is not a flight risk, and if released, "will live with me."
However, it was revealed that Tommy Bodkin has a 14-year-old child living in his home. Bush then asked if it would surprise him to know that many of the child pornography images allegedly found on Timothy Bodkin's computer "showed small children in bondage," to which he replied "yes."
Bush also said that according to staff at the Saline County jail, Timothy Bodkin is considered "a high risk of suicide."
Steven McDaniel of Little Rock then took the stand and said that Timothy Bodkin has been his best friend for about 28 years. He said Timothy Bodkin once lived in his home for two years and that he trusted the man to be around his two children.
McDaniel also said that Timothy Bodkin is "absolutely not" a flight risk. It was also revealed during Bush's questioning to McDaniel that Bodkin volunteered often to be around children, including a camp for burn victims, McDaniel's children, and other children of "friends and family."
McDaniel testified that even though there was "no reason for concern," he did ask his own children if anything inappropriate happened between them and Timothy Bodkin.
"They said nothing ever happened," McDaniel said.
He also said that since the arrest, he has spoken to Timothy Bodkin "four or five times," but the two had not discussed anything about child pornography.
McDaniel said he was surprised to learn that Timothy Bodkin had child pornography on a computer and answered "absolutely not" when asked if his opinion of his friend had changed.
"I trust him," he said. "I trust him with my children."
McDaniel said he was "not going to speculate" on how child pornography was on Bodkin's computer, but made reference to "today's technology," implying that it could have gotten there by accident.
When Benton firefighter Richard Childress testified, he said Timothy Bodkin was "like a son."
"(Timothy Bodkin) has worked with me since he was 16 at my old convenience store," he said. "I have no concerns that he is a flight risk. He is a very close friend. I've looked at him like a son most of his life."
Bush asked, "Would you be surprised that (Timothy Bodkin) has confessed that he downloaded and searched for child pornography?"
"Yeah," Childress replied. "This has all taken me by surprise."
Bush then introduced to Judge Robinson a letter from the Counseling Clinic in which Timothy Bodkin allegedly had undergone psychological treatment when he was taken to jail because "he was intent on killing himself."
"I also have a (Saline County sheriff's) detective here that can testify … she is prepared to tell you that (Timothy Bodkin) did in fact confess to downloading and particular searching for child pornography on his computer," Bush said.
Standridge, on the reason for the request of bond reduction, questioned a rule that reads "harm other people" and said that Bodkin didn't say that he would harm other people. Bush, however, asked, "How do we know that? (Timothy Bodkin) doesn't say how he'd harm himself. He could take someone else with him."
Bush also suggested to Judge Robinson that if Timothy Bodkin receives a bond reduction, "everyone in jail would love to have a change in bond. Unless there is a change in circumstance, there isn't a case (for bond reduction). Everyone in jail would do this." Standridge also noted that his client should face only one count of felony possession of child pornography.
"There was only one laptop seized," he said. "There should only be one count because it was only on one computer. The 1,000 counts is not necessarily the case; it is debatable. The $200,000 bond is out of line and it should be substantially reduced."
Standridge also pointed to various court cases in the past in which bonds were reduced, including many in Benton District Court.
Timothy Bodkin is scheduled to return to Benton District Court on Aug. 7, at which time he could enter a plea.