IRVINGTON — A township man has been accused of having one of the largest stashes of child pornography ever uncovered by investigators.

Jose Morales, 33, was indicted this week on a first-degree charge of child endangerment as a result of possessing more than 100,000 images depicting the sexual exploitation or abuse of a child.

Prosecutors say this is the first time someone has been charged with this first-degree crime in Essex County since the state's child-porn law overhaul went into effect last year.

Then-Gov. Chris Christie signed the law in 2017 to address "item(s) depicting the sexual exploitation or abuse of a child," which is defined as any image, including photos or computer-generated images, that depicts a child in an actual or simulated sexual act.

Illegal images can also depict a child in a "sexually suggestive manner," which is defined as showing a "child's less than completely and opaquely covered intimate parts" that "emits sensuality with sufficient impact to concentrate prurient interest on the child" or provides "sexual stimulation or gratification" without "serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value."

Morales was arrested in November 2018 after a website reported to authorities that someone had uploaded suspected images of child sexual abuse to an account connected to Morales.

Investigators later found more than 100,000 such images stored on devices seized from his home, prosecutors said.

Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email sergio.bichao@townsquaremedia.com.

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