Investigators searching the home of a 28-year-old Alexandria man charged with possessing child pornography found children's underwear, piles of snapshots of youngsters taken at local attractions including a zoo and copies of sexually explicit stories about abducting young girls, a federal court judge was told yesterday.
James Phillip Frankel, who until last week worked on Capitol Hill in the mail room of Sen. Rod Grams (R-Minn.), was arrested June 16 by U.S. Customs agents who allege that he was downloading child pornography to his home computer. Frankel, who investigators say had no prior criminal record, was released on a personal recognizance bond later that day before investigators finished executing a search of his home in the 100 block of Roberts Lane.
Yesterday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Welton Curtis Sewell in Alexandria revoked Frankel's bond, saying that anyone deriving pleasure from such materials is "seriously disturbed" and that Frankel's continued freedom would "pose a danger to the community."
Prosecutors have filed no additional charges against Frankel, saying his activities remain under investigation.
Frankel graduated from Long Beach State University in California, served in the Marine Corps in the Persian Gulf War and moved to Alexandria three years ago, according to his attorney.
During their search of Frankel's home, investigators said, they found 34 computer disks that allegedly contained child pornography, as well as images of children cut from advertisements and catalogues and a box containing a homemade photo collage of young girls' faces. A notation on top of the box read, "In the event of my death, destroy before opening by burning," court records show.
On the computer disks, investigators said, they also found files purportedly describing videos that give graphic instructions on child abduction and abuse. Investigators said they did not know whether the videos actually exist.
The snapshots of children found in a box in the house appear to have been taken in outdoor settings, some in the District, at malls and at a zoo, court records show. Also inside the box, investigators said, were 15 pairs of panties, all of which appeared to have been worn. Only one pair was sized for an adult. One pair had a child's name printed on the elastic waist band, according to court documents.
In a written response to the prosecution's emergency motion to revoke bond, Frankel's attorney, John Jacob Jr., told the judge that the photographs were taken in public locations. "There was no stalking or following of any individuals," Jacob said.
Jacob said Frankel obtained the underwear from the lost-and-found at the Hyatt Regency in Irvine, Calif., where he worked from 1993 to 1995 as a security officer.
Also seized from Frankel's bedroom, investigators allege, was a directory for the King's Chapel evangelical church in Oakton. Investigators said 10 directory listings, more than half of which included the names of children, were circled, according to court records.
Yesterday, Bill Jeschke, pastor of King's Chapel, said Frankel attended the church but hadn't been there in months.
"We reach out to a world of very broken people," Jeschke said. Frankel "was not involved with children in any way at our church. My heart breaks."