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Some evidence hidden by VA doctor accused of sex crimes recovered

Stevens County sheriff's detectives spent Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014, searching the Suncrest home of Dr. Craig Morgenstern who has been accused of rape of a child in the second degree.  (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman_revew)
Stevens County sheriff's detectives spent Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014, searching the Suncrest home of Dr. Craig Morgenstern who has been accused of rape of a child in the second degree. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman_revew)
Investigators have been able to recover some of the electronic devices hidden by Spokane VA doctor Craig Morgenstern as he tried to destroy suspected evidence of child sex crimes. Morgenstern turned himself in to Spokane County Sheriff’s Deputies late Monday after a warrant was issued for his arrest for two charges of child rape. “On his way to turn himself in, he threw his laptop in a dumpster in southern Stevens Conunty,” said deputy prosecuting attorney Lech Radzimski. “We recovered it yesterday. We got a tip that it was there.” Morgenstern’s bond was set at $100,000 and he was released Tuesday after posting bond. He was arrested again Wednesday evening on a charge of possession of child pornography. During a court appearance Thursday, Radzimski asked that Morgenstern be held on $1 million bond. He noted that Morgenstern makes $200,000 a year and recently paid cash for a Porsche. “He has a large pool of assets he has access to should he decide to run,” Radzimski said. “I realize that is astronomical for a case like this, but we believe it is warranted.” The child rape was reported early Saturday morning when a 13-year-old boy escaped from Morgenstern’s home and ran to a neighbor’s house. The boy told deputies that he had fallen asleep after drinking hot chocolate and awoke to find Morgenstern performing oral sex on him, according to court documents. The boy told police that he saw video cameras and believed Morgenstern took pictures of him. Morgenstern, who told police he was a friend of the boy’s family, denied that anything inappropriate had taken place. The boy was examined at Holy Family Hospital and traces of a sedative were found in his urine. The new charge stems from a video found in the evidence recovered by detectives. The video shows Morgenstern performing sex acts on the same boy involved in Saturday’s incident. The video was created in Hayden, Idaho, at Triple Play Family Fun Park, Radzimski said. Since the case became public, 10 families have contacted investigators with concerns about Morgenstern’s relationship with their children, he said. Stevens County Sheriff Kendle Allen said deputies did not arrest Morgenstern immediately on Saturday because they wanted to get results from the boy’s urine test first. “The child was back with his parents and no longer in any danger,” Allen said. “Sometimes when you’re out there doing things, that’s just the way it occurs.” Allen said he doesn’t regret that, even though Morgenstern was able to clean up his house and hide or throw away evidence. Several of those items have already been recovered and detectives were serving additional search warrants Thursday. “When it’s all done, I think we’ll have all the things we need,” he said. Investigators are still searching for some SD memory cards and a hard drive. “We have learned that he secreted his iPhone and iPad at a residence where he had been staying,” Radzimski said. Christian Phelps, Morgenstern’s attorney, argued against the $1 million bond requested in court Thursday. “Most of what counsel has said was contained in the original affidavit,” he said. “They expected to find child porn.” Stevens County Superior Court Judge Patrick Monasmith said there have been changes of circumstance since Monday’s arrest, including Morgenstern being suspended from his job at the Spokane VA Hospital, but he couldn’t order the $1 million bond. “I cannot justify imposing bond as we would a homicide suspect,” he said. Monasmith set’s Morgenstern’s bond at $250,000 on the child pornography charge and ordered that he be on electronic home monitoring if released. He also ordered that Morgenstern have no contact with minors and noted that Halloween is approaching. “I would expect the door to be barred,” he said. Allen said he was a little disappointed with the lower bond amount. “That’s what the court has ruled,” he said. “At least we’ll have tracking on him.”
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