COLVILLE – The emergency room physician facing child pornography charges has been moved to Spokane County Jail in anticipation of federal criminal charges that could be filed as early as today.
Investigators say they have video evidence that Craig Morgenstern, who is accused of drugging and raping a 13-year old boy last weekend, has victimized other minors.
Dr. Craig Morgenstern, an emergency room doctor at the Spokane Veterans Affairs Medical Center, was arrested Wednesday for the second time this week. The new child pornography case stems from a video found in a desktop computer recovered from Morgenstern’s home by detectives. The video shows Morgenstern performing sex acts on the same victim in the alleged child rape that brought deputies to Morgenstern’s home on Saturday, authorities said. The video was created in Hayden, Idaho, at Triple Play Family Fun Park, said deputy prosecuting attorney Lech Radzimski.
Since the case became public, 10 families have contacted investigators with concerns about Morgenstern’s relationship with their children, he said.
There are other victims, Radzimski said. Other videos featuring Morgenstern and other boys were found on a computer recovered from his home, he said.
Although county sheriff’s officials allege that Morgenstern tried to destroy evidence after deputies were first at his home, Stevens County Superior Court Judge Patrick Monasmith declined a prosecutor’s request to set bond at $1 million.
When he was arrested on Sunday on the child rape charge, Morgenstern’s bond was set at $100,000, and he was released Tuesday after posting bond.
During a court appearance Thursday, Radzimski 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.”
Christian Phelps, Morgenstern’s attorney, argued in court Thursday that there wasn’t enough new information since Morgenstern’s first arrest to warrant a significantly higher bond.
“Most of what counsel has said was contained in the original affidavit,” he said. “They expected to find child porn.”
Monasmith said there have been changes of circumstance since Monday’s arrest, including Morgenstern’s suspension 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 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.
As of Thursday evening, Morgenstern remained in the Stevens County Jail.
Stevens County Sheriff Kendle 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.”
An investigation is underway to determine where Morgenstern got the sedative he allegedly used to drug the boy, Radzimski said.
Morgenstern first turned himself in to Stevens County sheriff’s deputies late Monday after a warrant was issued for his arrest on two child rape charges.
On his way to give himself up, investigators say, Morgenstern tried to destroy possible evidence.
Acting on a tip, authorities recovered Morgenstern’s laptop Wednesday.
“On his way to turn himself in, he threw his laptop in a Dumpster in southern Stevens County,” said Radzimski.
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. He pretended to be asleep and was able to get away when Morgenstern went to the bathroom, 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.
Morgenstern allowed deputies to inspect and take pictures of his home, where they noticed cases of recordable DVDs and camera equipment as well as boxes of toys, video games and arcade games. When detectives returned with a search warrant on Sunday, many items were missing, including the bedding on which the alleged rape occurred.
The boy was examined at Holy Family Hospital and traces of a sedative were found in his urine.
Investigators still are searching for some memory cards and a computer hard drive.
“We have learned that he secreted his iPhone and iPad at a residence where he had been staying,” Radzimski said.
Allen, the sheriff, 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 waiting, even though Morgenstern was able to clean up his house and potentially hide or destroy evidence before a search warrant was served. Several of those items already have 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.
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