Judge sets $1 million bail for former cop from Robbins and Dixmoor charged with having more than 35 child porn videos, images

A former Robbins and Dixmoor police officer possessed child pornography during the time of his employment as officer and was fired from both positions including after a “grooming” incident with juveniles, prosecutors said Saturday.

Tory Bridgeforth, 37, of Chicago Heights, appeared before Cook County Judge Susana L. Ortiz, who set bail at $1 million during a hearing that was livestreamed on YouTube.

Bridgeforth was ordered to have no contact with anyone under the age of 18, including his 12-year-old daughter.

“Mr. Bridgeforth constitutes a danger to any children whatsoever ... his own, children who are virtual, children on the internet ... these are disturbing images,” Ortiz said before setting bail. “I do consider them to be crimes of violence.”

Bridgeforth has been charged with possession of child pornography videos of victims under 13, possession of child pornography videos of victims under 18, and possession of child pornography images of victims under 18, a statement from the Cook County sheriff’s office said.

When police arrested him on Wednesday, he had three cellphones, two of which he declined to give passcodes for, prosecutors said. On the one that was forensically examined, about 19 videos of prepubescent and pubescent child victims were found, as well as 15 images dated from June of 2021 through September of 2022, prosecutors said.

“Of significant note, he was employed as a police officer when he possessed files of child pornography,” the prosecutor told Ortiz.

Bridgeforth worked for the Dixmoor Police Department from 2021 to 2022 and the Robbins Police Department in 2019, the sheriff’s statement said. Prosecutors said he was terminated from both positions.

Bridgeforth told police he used his cellphone to view child pornography and when investigators examined his phone, there were more than 35 sexually explicit images and videos of children as young as 8, the statement said.

For a “significant period of time,” over a one-year period, if not more, there were videos depicting children engaged in sexual activity being sent to and from email addresses and phones numbers and IP addresses that are connected to the defendant, Ortiz said.

Bridgeforth was still working as a police sergeant with Robbins when in December of 2019, he was investigated, though not charged criminally, for grooming and contributing to the delinquency of minors, prosecutors said.

In the July 2019 situation, Bridgeforth responded to a police incident in which he made contact with three kids aged 12 and 13. He picked them up the next day and brought them to a vacant home where he gave them, juice, edibles, alcohol and cannabis before taking them home, prosecutors said.

An attorney who represented Bridgeforth asserted that he has three children, including a 12-year-old daughter who he cares for and who needs a father figure, volunteers for a hurricane relief program, has an associates degree and attended the police academy.

He has no violent history and has one disorderly conduct conviction from 2018.

“This is all a misunderstanding,’’ the attorney said of the allegations against Bridgeforth.

The charges stem from a probe by the Cook County Sheriff’s Police Internet Crimes Against Children unit, that received a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which found the materials on an email account. After executing search warrants, they found the email belonged to Bridgeforth, the statement said.

Bridgeforth, who could not be reached for comment, is due back in court in Markham on Tuesday.