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Disturbing new details came out in court Wednesday in the case of a Lauderdale County man charged with hundreds of counts of child porn.
Michael Newell is charged with more than 300 counts of having and producing child pornography. Investigators said he took pictures and videos of an 11-year-old girl while she showered and slept naked.
On Wednesday, Newell appeared before Judge Self for his bond hearing. Self set Newell's bond at $400,000. If he makes bond, Newell must wear an ankle monitor, get approval before leaving his home in Rogersville, go to a psychologist, cannot have contact with the victim or any family members, cannot be within 1,000 feet of any place children might frequent and cannot have any electronics or access to the internet.
Investigators in Lauderdale County said Newell admitted to video taping an 11-year-old showering, but his defense attorney, Ralph Holt, said there is an explanation for that.
"The shower was being torn up and destroyed, and he thought it was her, but she denied it, so he was just trying to prove it. So what it really shows is she was doing that, and it wasn't made for any illegal purposes. He's the one that presented it to her," said Ralph Holt, Newell's defense attorney.
Investigators said that claim doesn't explain why they found hundreds of videos and images of the victim sleeping naked and showering.
"Well, he has to have an excuse, but it doesn't hold water," said Lauderdale County investigator, Matt Horton.
During Newell's bond hearing, Holt said investigators had Newell's confession in December 2017 but didn't act on charges until now.
"According to the district attorney, and we disagree with this, he made some form of confession at that time, but they didn't make any move to arrest him or keep him under any bond conditions then," said Holt.
The district attorney's office said it did have a confession from Newell about video taping the child in the shower, but it was necessary to go through his electronics to have more evidence to build a stronger case against him.
"If you look at the number of items we had to take, then you have to have each of those items forensically analyzed, so cases like this take a long time to put together," said Horton.
The 11-year-old victim went to her school's guidance counselor in December 2017 and told them Newell was taking videos of her. The victim said he made her sit in his lap and watch the videos of her showering and made her smoke pot. Horton said the victim in the case is a brave person to come forward.
"I am so proud of that little girl for being able to come forth and telling us what happened to her," said Horton. "In cases like this, there is never a good case. They are all horrible in their each and own way, but for a child to be able to tell us what happened to her and come forward, I can't say enough about her strength."
As soon as the child came forward in 2017, the Department of Human Resources got involved and Newell no longer had access to her. Newell is behind bars at the Lauderdale County Detention Center.