Brookline public school employee faces child pornography charges

Benjamin Schwartz consults with his defense attorney, Christine Martin, at his arraignment in Brookline District Court today.
Benjamin Schwartz consults with his defense attorney, Christine Martin, at his arraignment in Brookline District Court today.Credit: Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff

BROOKLINE — School Superintendent William H. Lupini said today that no evidence has yet emerged suggesting that a Brookline High School paraprofessional accused of possession of child pornography had improper contact with special education students he worked with.

Benjamin Schwartz was arrested by Brookline and State Police on Thursday on charges of possession of child pornography and dissemination of obscene matter, according to Brookline police and a spokesman for Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey.

Schwartz, 32, pleaded not guilty at his arraignment where District Court Judge Mary Dacey White set bail at $7,500 cash, banned him from accessing the Internet, and ordered him to wear a GPS monitoring bracelet if he posts bail.

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Schwartz was the target of an investigation by Brookline police and the State Police Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. Police said his Brookline home has been searched, but they did not disclose what they found.

In court, Norfolk Assistant District Attorney Danielle Piccarini alleged that Schwartz downloaded and re-uploaded graphic images of girls between the ages of 8 and 10 who were engaging in sexual acts.

According to authorities, Schwartz claimed to State Police he had accidentally downloaded the child pornography, and decided to keep what he described as “disturbing stuff’’ on his computer so he could help law enforcement track down the person who made the film.

Schwartz also allegedly told State Police that he did not have any inapproriate contact with students in the Brookline public schools.

Schwartz has worked for the town school system since 2002 — except for one year when he worked elsewhere — as a paraprofessional dealing with students with a variety of special education individualized education plans, Lupini said.

Schwartz would work under the supervision of a teacher, but Lupini said it is likely that at some point during his years, Schwartz was alone with students. However, Lupini added, Brookline police have told him that there is no indication that students were victimized by Schwartz.

Police “briefed us on what they know. It’s very early in the investigation,’’ Lupini said. “But there is no evidence of any involvement of Brookline students in what they’ve uncovered to date.’’

He said he intends to tell Brookline parents that news today, but also said: “If they do uncover that, we will tell them that as well.’’

He said Schwartz did not participate in home-based special education programs provided by the school system to some Brookline students. He also did not work with students who are cognitively disabled.

Lupini declined to comment when asked about Schwartz’s job performance over the years.

Lupini said Schwartz has been on leave since last month due to a matter unrelated to his arrest, and that he will not be allowed to return to work while the criminal charges are pending against him.

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