Former Scout leader sentenced to 5 years probation for possessing child pornography
Frank Bertram Jr., 67, a former assistant scoutmaster with the Great Sauk Trail Council, will not be allowed to use a computer during the five years of probation he will serve for possessing child pornography.
“I’m very sorry for what I did,” Bertram said before his sentencing in Judge Archie Brown’s courtroom in the Washtenaw County Trial Court July 18. “I went down the wrong road.”
According to records AnnArbor.com obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, a search warrant was obtained June 2, 2011 to search Bertram’s Scio Township home. Police located a computer that contained a video of two young boys engaged in sexual acts, according to federal court records.
“(A computer) found in the hallway closet next to several cameras and mini DV tapes, contained child pornography and was seized along with all other media in the closet,” read the report from the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office.
While officers from the sheriff’s department, the Ann Arbor Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation were searching Bertram’s home, a man called and left a message regarding his Boy Scout son, according to the report. Up until that point, officials did not know Bertram was a Boy Scout leader.
Bertram first came to the attention of authorities while working as a chemist for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Ann Arbor office. In October 2011, an EPA official contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigations regarding ““inappropriate activities conducted on an EPA computer.”
Bertram had been using his work computer and EPA Internet connection to access pornography and “boy lover” websites, according to court records. There were at least eight of these types of websites Bertram visited. Bertram also had a blog where he discussed his sexual interest in young boys and alluded to himself as a scout leader.
According to court records, on one of the websites, going by the screen name “bibiker,” Bertram posted over 200 messages, one of which indicated Bertram volunteered at a boy’s camp and was excited by the prospect of being able to “spend time with about 25 or 30 boys tonight!”
Authorities also discovered image files consisting of “nude and partially-clothed photographs of pubescent and pre-pubescent boys” on one of Bertram's computers.
A search warrant was then obtained and Bertram’s house, where they located the video on his private computer. The video was obtained using the Limewire file sharing system.
When interviewed, Bertram “admitted that he had occasionally used the computer to view images and movies using Limewire, but did not discuss the specifics of the images and videos,” according to court records.
The case against Bertram initially was filed in the federal court, but dismissed in September and instead pursued in the lower courts. On Jan. 17, he stood mute at his preliminary examination in district court. In April, the four counts of possession of child sexually abusive material were bound over to circuit court. On May 30, Bertram pleaded guilty to one count in a plea bargain that dropped the three other counts.
It’s previously been reported that Bertram is no longer associated with the Boy Scouts. The EPA’s Ann Arbor office said he no longer works there and is retired.
During his sentencing hearing, Bertram said he suffers from depression and other mental issues he was trying to get under control.
“I’m now on the right road,” he said.
A stipulation of his probation is that he is not to have a computer or be connected to the Internet in anyway without written permission.
Bertram’s attorney, Douglas Mullkoff, told the court he hoped that considering that how pervasive computers are in our culture, the order could possibly be looked at again in the future.
“Hopefully within five years, living in this world we’re living in, that might be relaxed,” he said.