On April 22, the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office announced six more arrests in a recent investigation of suspected child predators. One of the suspects arrested was 24-year old Hunter W. Gayden, a mechanical engineering major at Drexel University. Gayden was charged with 50 counts of possession of child pornography, one count of distribution of child pornography and criminal use of a communication facility.
Gayden is a member of the Formula SAE racing team on Drexel’s campus, a group that’s recently received some spotlight for the lack of space provided to them by the University. Gayden was also part of a sustainable water resource engineering course last summer in which a group of students spent two and a half weeks on the island of Lazzaretto Nuovo in Venice, Italy.
FSAE President Hunter Hall told The Triangle, “The Drexel FSAE team was shocked to hear about Gayden’s recent charge. He was very involved with the team, including running the website with team updates. Every effort has been made to be sure that his involvement with these charges has not leaked into the FSAE team’s functions.”
In Pennsylvania, the state prohibits the voluntary viewing or possession of child pornography in one’s home or another place under one’s control. The prosecutor must prove that Gayden has kept or distributed pornographic photos, books, videos, films or computer files that involved children under the age of 18. There are no mandatory minimum sentences for possession of child pornography, but distribution carries a minimum of five years. The first offense of possession is considered a third degree felony; because it is only possession, Gayden may not be required to register as a sexual offender if found guilty.
Attorney General Kathleen Kane said to 6 ABC News, “This means to a lot of people in the area, ‘You have child predators living among you, and these people are a danger to children — whether they are depicted in video or living in the neighborhood.’”
It isn’t the first time a member of the Drexel community has been charged with such a thing. In 2010, a former Drexel associate professor of philosophy named Mark Manion pleaded guilty of possession of child pornography, with a total of 800 images of “pre-pubertal” girls and six movies of children having sexual relations with adults.
The Triangle is investigating this incident further and will update this story as it develops.