- The Washington Times - Monday, September 26, 2005

RICHMOND — A 38-year-old man police have identified as a person of interest in the disappearance of a college student was arraigned yesterday on child-pornography charges.

Ben Fawley, an amateur photographer who was one of the last people to see 17-year-old Virginia Commonwealth University freshman Taylor Behl, was arraigned on 16 counts of possession of child pornography and ordered held without bail.

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Mike Jagels said authorities have found at least 30 videos on Mr. Fawley’s computers depicting children as young as 1 in sexual acts.

Neither Taylor nor Mr. Fawley appear in any of the videos, Mr. Jagels said, and Mr. Fawley has not been charged in Taylor’s disappearance.

Police raided Mr. Fawley’s apartment last week and took several computers and CDs, according to a search warrant.

Police said the pornography charges are “not directly related” to Taylor’s disappearance, but have since searched Mr. Fawley’s home for items belonging to the teen, including her clothing.

They also issued a search warrant requiring Mr. Fawley to submit hair and DNA samples.

Taylor was last seen the evening of Sept. 5, when she left her dormitory room, taking only her cell phone, a small amount of cash, a student ID and her car keys. She told her roommate she would be back in a few hours.

The teen’s car was found two weeks later, less than two miles from her dorm. Her license plates had been replaced with Ohio plates reported stolen several weeks earlier.

According to an attorney who has represented Mr. Fawley, the photographer had a romantic relationship with the teen, and Mr. Jagels said the two had sex on several occasions. That could lead to a charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, Mr. Jagels said.

Mr. Fawley also may face additional charges for distribution of child pornography, he said.

Mr. Fawley spoke little during his brief court appearance, snorting and shaking his head back and forth when Mr. Jagels told the judge he posed a flight risk.

Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court Judge Kimberly O’Donnell appointed public defender Richard Johnson to represent Mr. Fawley after he said he couldn’t afford to hire a lawyer.

Mr. Johnson objected when Mr. Jagels brought up the teenager’s disappearance, calling the case irrelevant to the current charges. Judge O’Donnell disagreed and ordered Mr. Fawley held without bond until his preliminary hearing Oct. 31.

If convicted on all counts, Mr. Fawley would face up to 80 years in prison.

Mr. Fawley has been convicted of three assaults in the Richmond area over the past three years, Mr. Jagels said. Two of those were domestic assaults involving women, he said.

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