The week that the Daily Tidings broke the news that Ashland resident James Auchincloss was being investigated by police for allegedly possessing child pornography, the half-brother to the late Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis canceled his membership to the Ashland Family YMCA, the executive director of the gym said.
In the June 4 story, Auchincloss' former personal assistant, Eddy McManus, claimed he had recently seen Auchincloss "hanging out in the kiddie section of the pool at the YMCA."
"He shouldn't be hanging out there, but he's still there," McManus said, adding that he was concerned about local children getting hurt.
Police say there is no evidence that Auchincloss or Eagle Point resident Dennis Vickoren, who is also being investigated for child porn, have physically harmed children. Neither man has been charged.
Despite evidence that the men have taken photographs of clothed children locally, the case was not given a high priority at the Southern Oregon High-Tech Crimes Task Force lab, which is analyzing computers and other electronic equipment seized at Auchincloss' and Vickoren's homes. The lab received the case last October.
Lisa Molnar, executive director of the Ashland Family YMCA, said she couldn't remember whether Auchincloss canceled his membership a few days before or after the Daily Tidings story ran.
She said YMCA officials were alarmed when they learned of the investigation, but they don't think any children were harmed at the gym, which holds after-school and summer camps for young children.
"I think the whole community, in a situation like this, is concerned about having a person like that in the community," she said. "At this time we have no indication that any criminal wrongdoing occurred at the YMCA."
Molnar declined to say what would have happened if Auchincloss hadn't canceled his membership.
"I think that that's something I can't speak to right now," she said. "I think that we would work closely with the local authorities and ask them what their advice in a situation like that would be."
Police continue investigation
Task force officials have been working on the case full-time for the past several weeks, but still have several pieces of electronic equipment to inspect, said Sgt. Josh Moulin, the task force commander. He said he couldn't predict when the lab will be finished analyzing the electronic data from the case.
"We are continuing to focus on the case and we hope to get it done just as soon as possible," he said.
Responding to speculation that the case may have received special treatment because it involved a member of the extended Kennedy family, Moulin said police have handled the investigation normally.
"We're treating this case just like any other case that would come in," he said. "We don't look at a person's monetary status or who they're related to when we're investigating them."
Moulin also defended the prioritizing of the case.
"I know that there have been some comments about why it has taken so long, or why we're not doing this fast," he said, "and I think what some people are forgetting is that we do actually have cases of people who are molesting children that we know about and those cases, they do take precedence."
Police seek internal leak
Last month, the Daily Tidings obtained search warrant documents pertaining to the child porn investigation, which began last October.
After learning that the newspaper had obtained the documents, the Ashland Police Department conducted an internal investigation to see if someone in the department had leaked the papers to the Daily Tidings, said Police Chief Terry Holderness.
"We feel pretty confident that there was no internal leak," he said.
The documents, held at the Jackson County Circuit Court, have been unsealed only once, when a judge granted Auchincloss' attorney the right to review them, Holderness said. The judge placed no restrictions on what the attorney could do with the documents, Holderness said.
The newspaper will not disclose how it obtained the documents, in order to protect its source, City Editor Myles Murphy said.
Meanwhile, Ashland police officers are eager to receive the task force's report on the child porn case so they can decide whether or not to hand the case over to the Jackson County District Attorney's Office, Holderness said.
"We're just waiting for the crime lab," he said. "Anything short of a homicide just takes a really long time."
Contact staff writer Hannah Guzik at 482-3456 ext. 226 or firstname.lastname@example.org.