Bernard Cahill, 55, of Gloucester Township (formerly of Folsom), was sentenced today to 14 years in state prison by Superior Court Judge Bernard E. DeLury Jr. in Atlantic County. Cahill pleaded guilty on Aug. 12 to second-degree charges of sexual assault and distribution of child pornography. He was sentenced to seven years in prison for each of the two charges, with the sentences to be served consecutively. Cahill will be required to register as a sex offender under Megan’s Law and will be subject to parole supervision for life. In pleading guilty, Cahill admitted that he penetrated the 16-year-old victim sexually with his fingers while she slept.
Deputy Attorney General Naju R. Lathia prosecuted Cahill and took the guilty plea for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau. Deputy Attorney General Denise Grugan handled today’s sentencing.
Cahill initially was arrested in April 2012 in “Operation Watchdog,” a multi-agency investigation led by the New Jersey State Police and the Division of Criminal Justice that targeted offenders who distributed known images and videos of child pornography online. While investigating Cahill’s sharing of child pornography online, investigators discovered sexually explicit images in his computer that he had taken of a 16-year-old girl. Cahill lived in Folsom in Atlantic County at the time of the criminal conduct.
The state’s investigation revealed that, on multiple occasions, Cahill, who had access to the girl’s home, touched and penetrated the 16-year-old victim sexually with his fingers while she slept, and pulled aside her shorts or pulled up her shirt to take photos of her exposed private areas. He also placed her hand on his genitals while she slept. The investigation further revealed that, beginning when the victim was 13, Cahill spied on her and photographed her through her bedroom window while she was alone and naked. The child pornography charge relates to Cahill’s downloading and sharing of child pornography on the Internet. A forensic review of his computer revealed approximately 1,000 images and 300 videos of child pornography.
“The fact that Cahill wantonly violated this innocent teenage girl while she was asleep and completely defenseless reveals that he was ready to prey on children when the opportunity presented itself and when he believed he would not get caught,” said Acting Attorney General Hoffman. “Fortunately, we did catch him through our online investigation, and we have put him in prison where he cannot prey on other vulnerable children.”
“As we investigate child pornography on the Internet, we frequently uncover offenders like Cahill who act on their deviant impulses by sexually assaulting children,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We will continue to make these online investigations a priority, so that we can lock up those who sexually exploit children by sharing child pornography, as well as those like Cahill who prey directly on children to whom they have access.”
“This operation has not only incarcerated a man who violated a child, but it demonstrates once more that those who possess and distribute child pornography must be viewed as a threat to vulnerable children,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police.
The investigation was conducted by the New Jersey State Police Digital Technology Investigations Unit and the Division of Criminal Justice Computer Analysis & Technology Unit. Operation Watchdog was conducted in partnership with other members of the New Jersey Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, including the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office and agents from ICE Homeland Security Investigations and the FBI.
Acting Attorney General Hoffman and Director Honig urged anyone who suspects improper contact by persons communicating with children on the Internet or possible exploitation or sexual abuse of children to contact the New Jersey Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Tipline at 888-648-6007.