Feds: Warren man taped young boys in locker room

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

A Warren man is facing child pornography charges after authorities found videos on a thumb drive showing boys changing in a public locker room, federal officials allege.

An investigation into Timothy Kenneth Decker, 58, was sparked after a 20-year-old man who works for him told police in August he found the footage. The device “contained five videos of minor males changing into bathing suits in a public locker room,” according to a complaint filed in U.S. District Court this week.

Federal authorities obtained the thumb drive and reviewed its material. Decker was then accused of producing and possessing child pornography — charges that carry up to 30 years in prison.

“At the beginning of each video, an adult male that appears to be Decker turns the camera towards his face, and then turns the camera and proceeds to videotape the locker room” while walking around, an FBI task force officer wrote in the court filing.

Further review found more such footage time-stamped in 2011 that captured boys — including prepubescent ones — changing clothes, according to the court document. The location of the public locker room wasn’t disclosed in the filing, but a federal representative told a judge this week it appeared to be at a community center.

According to authorities, the worker, who has known Decker for about eight years and was employed at the 58-year-old’s party rental company, had been preparing a flier when he also uncovered another surprise on the borrowed thumb drive: videos of himself as a teen changing in a locker room and sleeping naked.

Not only that, the alleged victim — identified just as Victim One (V-1) in the complaint — found “hundreds if not thousands of videos” on Decker’s home desktop computer early last month, federal officials claim.

Some of the videos, which the young man believes were filmed from when he was 13 years old until a few months ago, depicted him sleeping nude — possibly during company trips, cruises or vacations he took with Decker, according to the affidavit.

When he confronted Decker about the footage, the older man offered to pay his debts and cell phone bill “if V-1 agreed to not contact police,” the complaint asserts. After writing a “contract,” Decker allegedly agreed to delete the videos.

Warren police who executed a search warrant at Decker’s home “found no computers or external media devices” there, investigators said. During a court hearing this week, Assistant U.S. Attorney Margaret Smith said authorities executing a search warrant found a computer “in pieces” inside his truck as well as a laptop with “a large number of deleted folders.”

Officials have also seized videos and tapes that reportedly “show him surreptitiously recording these children as they are playing on the equipment that the companies, the churches, the daycare centers are renting from his business,” Smith said.

Citing those instances as well as “his pattern of following children, of secretly recording them and of putting himself in a position to be around children,” Smith asked Magistrate Judge R. Steven Whalen to detain Decker. She also pointed out that Decker, who worked for a trucking company, lives near an elementary school and in a neighborhood with youngsters.

Besides that, V-1 told investigators Decker recently gave him an orange juice drink that made the young man sleep for eight hours, after which he awoke with “sore” genitalia, as had happened “a few other times,” Smith said.

“I think that his actions in this case ... have shown that this is a man who cannot be trusted,” she said.

Jack Jaffe, the lawyer representing Decker, told Whalen his client has no criminal record and does not pose a flight risk. He argued some of the files federal investigators claimed were deleted might have been business records and there’s “nothing concrete” Decker filmed children after 2011.

Addressing the “contract” with the alleged 20-year-old victim, the attorney suggested the younger man, whom Smith described as fearing Decker, “perhaps ... found a way to get some money from” him.

“To conclude that this is an element of coercion — I think it belies what our common sense would indicate,” Jaffe said.

Jaffe did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Whalen decided Decker was a danger to the community and ordered him held until a preliminary examination scheduled for Oct. 7.

“The weight of the evidence is reasonably strong based on what’s been proffered here today,” Whalen said during the hearing.

(313) 222-2117