NJ judge who directed child rape video loses pension
A disbarred state judge who lost his leg, penis — and apparently his mind — in Vietnam has also lost his pension after being convicted of videotaping himself raping a boy.
An appellate panel this week denied Stephen Thompson’s effort to overturn previous decisions that forfeited his pension.
Thompson, a decorated war hero, had been set to receive $52,000 a year for the rest of his life until he was arrested in 2003 on charges of possessing and producing images of child sexual abuse.
He was convicted in federal court on one charge, found not guilty by reason of insanity on another charge and was sentenced in 2006 to 10 years in prison.
The Judicial Retirement Pension Board of Trustees later voted to forfeit his pension because his conduct “constituted a high degree of moral turpitude” and “violated the public trust.” The board said his crimes were “egregious” and “severely discredited the judiciary system.”
Thompson, however, argued that the board was wrong to discount all his years of service for an offense that occurred close to his retirement.
The state’s pension boards can deny all or part of a public worker’s pension if the worker engages in misconduct during their employment. The misconduct usually has to be related to the job but the worker does not have to be found guilty of a criminal offense.
An administrative law judge and the pension board previously concluded that judges are held to a higher standard.
The appellate decision this week said that the misconduct involved his job as a judge because he used his state computer to access more than 6,000 files of child pornography.
Investigators said that at his Haddon home they found video of a boy being raped and a computer with child porn. A cassette from a video camera showed Thompson directing a boy to perform sexual acts and showed Thompson performing oral sex on the boy. The 45-minute video had been taped during a 2002 trip to Russia, officials said.
At his Avalon home, they found thousands of images of child pornography and films in digital, videocassette and 8 mm format.
A federal jury in 2005 found him guilty of sexual exploitation of a minor and not guilty by reason of insanity for possession of child pornography. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison and three years of supervised release. He was ordered to pay a $25,000 fine and register as a sex offender.
Although Thompson argued during the pension appeals that his crime was something that happened close to the end of his career, during the trial it was revealed that he had begun collecting child pornography in the 1970s.
He began his career in 1979 as a Haddon municipal prosecutor and became a municipal judge in 1980. He served as an administrative law judge from 1984 to 1989, when he was appointed as a Superior Court judge.
While in Vietnam, he was gravely injured in 1969 when he was shot 20 times by an automatic firearm at point-blank range. He lost his right leg, bladder, penis and testicles, the appellate decision states. He almost died several times during his two years of recovery in Japan, the record shows.
The appellate decision says that even though he suffered from PTSD — and his defense successfully argued that he should be found not guilty by reason of insanity — he was well aware that what he was doing was wrong because he used a special service to hide his computer’s IP address when he surfed for child porn.
“We have little difficulty in upholding the Board's decision to totally forfeit his judicial retirement benefits,” the two-judge panel concluded Monday.
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.