Ex-director of Lutz Children's Museum in Manchester charged with distributing child pornography

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Alex Wood, Journal Inquirer, Manchester, Conn.
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Apr. 8—The former director of the Lutz Children's Museum in Manchester is facing a federal charge of distributing child pornography.

The ex-director, Robert Eckert, 56, was arraigned today in a hearing held via teleconference before Magistrate Judge Robert A. Richardson, who sits in U.S. District Court in Hartford, after a federal grand jury indicted Eckert earlier in the week.

Although Eckert's lawyer, Trent LaLima, presented proposed bond conditions that prosecutor Nancy Gifford said "sound OK," the judge declined to release Eckert immediately. Richardson explained that he had concerns in three areas — health, "devices in the house," and "random visits to the house" — that needed to be addressed before he could approve Eckert's release. The judge added later, "Mental health issues are paramount in these cases."

Under the defense lawyer's bond proposal, Eckert's wife would pledge the family home, which she owns, as security for his bond and would serve as his "custodian." The prosecutor said there was no evidence that Eckert had "hands-on contact with minors" but added that his activities regarding child pornography occurred in secret while his wife was presumably in the house. She also said there was evidence of "significant sexual activity with adults over an 18-month period," suggesting a "level of deceit."

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