UPPER MORELAND - Police searched the Cinekyd media-arts school in Willow Grove and the home of executive director Robert J. Clark Jr. yesterday, looking for pictures and videos of students being spanked.
The search was triggered by information that surfaced after Clark, 61, was arrested Tuesday and charged with spanking eight boys who attended the school and kissing some of them.
An affidavit filed in Hatboro to obtain three search warrants said two informants, identified in the document only by their initials, contacted detectives on Wednesday and said they had knowledge of the videotaping of spankings.
One, a former student of the renowned school, told investigators he was spanked by Clark while someone else videotaped the incident.
The second informant, a Willow Grove woman who is the sister of a onetime student at Cinekyd, said that she saw a video of Clark, who founded the school 27 years ago, spanking at least 10 boys.
In the affidavit, students' accounts to police describe regular spankings of clothed boys on their birthdays in front of other students. On other occasions, some boys recalled being taken to a garage or office and told to remove their pants before they were spanked by Clark, police were told.
The search-warrant requests were filed by Upper Moreland Detective John D. McCue Jr., who is investigating the allegations of child abuse at the school where children 7 to 17 are taught radio, television and moviemaking skills.
As many as 80 to 100 boys and girls study there each year, and thousands have taken part in the program over the last 27 years.
Authorities confirmed yesterday that searches were being carried out at the school's campus on Terwood Road, a garage across the road where some spankings are alleged to have taken place, and the home on Knock N Knoll Circle where Clark lives with his sister.
Officials said they seized hundreds of videotapes, three computer hard drives, and one laptop computer. They expected it would take days to analyze the evidence.
Police searched for "all evidence related to and including videos, photographs of any spankings and any cameras used to capture spanking," an affidavit of probable cause states.
Detectives also wanted to seize computers, disks or disk drives where pictures of spankings might be stored, court records state.
The videotaping allegations came from "respected" members of the community, police said.
A man who said he attended Cinekyd between 1986 and 1996 told police Clark spanked him from the time he was 7 until he was 17. During birthday celebrations, Clark would instruct the students to "capture the entire event on film, which would include the spanking," the affidavit states.
A woman who said her sister attended Cinekyd 25 years ago told police she was once at a Cinekyd presentation at Upper Moreland Middle School and saw a video of Clark spanking at least 10 boys, the affidavit states.
The affidavit also revealed that police consulted with the FBI's behavioral analysis unit in Quantico, Va., about the sexual and psychological motivations of adults spanking children for sexual gratification.
Clark, a retired Upper Moreland media-arts teacher, posted $100,000 cash bail on Wednesday and was released from the Montgomery County Correctional Facility, where he had been taken after his arraignment.
He is charged with eight counts each of endangering the welfare of a child, indecent assault, corruption of a minor, simple assault, and harassment, and three counts of false imprisonment.
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