Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Greenwich Connecticut, Child Porn, and George W. Bush in one news story?:

added 7 PM EST:

CONNECTICUT NEWS
Ex-Church Music Director Enters Not Guilty Plea
4:54 PM EST, December 12, 2006
The Associated Press, The Hartford Courant website

President Bush's aunt and other members of a prominent Greenwich church showed up in federal court Tuesday to support a former music director who pleaded not guilty to possessing child pornography.

Robert F. Tate, 64, of Greenwich, remained behind bars after the hearing. FBI agents arrested him last month in Los Angeles.

Tate was the longtime music director of Christ Church in Greenwich, where former President George Bush attended services while growing up. Funeral services for his parents, Prescott Bush Sr. and Dorothy Walker Bush, were held there.

"I think he's wonderful," said Elizabeth Bush, whose husband, Prescott, is President Bush's uncle and former President Bush's brother. "He's certainly been a wonderful, wonderful choir director for 36 years. He's just the most extraordinarily talented and spiritual person."

Attorney Francis O'Reilly said he will seek Tate's release on bond soon. When he does, the government can present any additional evidence it has developed.

Authorities have released few details about the case. Court records accuse Tate of possessing digital images of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct and refer to "apparent foreign travel for purpose of photographing children." An investigation is continuing.

Prosecutor Peter Jongbloed said Tate is a flight risk and a danger to the community and could try to obstruct justice if released on bond.

About 30 church members attended the hearing. Tate smiled and waved to them as he entered the courtroom in handcuffs, prompting several to wave back.

"He's so pale," one woman said.

Several church members, including those with children in the choir, said they support Tate.

"I have great compassion and respect for Bob Tate. I'm here to support him in a very difficult time," said Meredith Braxton, an attorney whose children are in the choir. "Parents are so deeply involved in this program. We feel if anything had happened we would have known."

Tate oversaw the church's renowned choir programs, including those involving children, said Scott Fossel, a former treasurer of the church choir. Tate traveled with the choir for performances around the country and in Europe, Fossel said.

Fossel has said the church has a strict policy that prohibits adults from being alone with children.

"He's a wonderful human being," said church member Franklin Bloomer. "He put together a wonderful program, a program that altered the lives of many children, including my own."

Jury selection is scheduled to begin Feb. 22. If convicted, Tate faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $250,000.

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