Colchester resident Bernard Tinker is one of eight men arrested on charges of possession of child pornography, in what investigators have dubbed, Operation Bada Bing.
Investigators uncovered tens of thousands of images and videos of child pornography and erotica on a home built tower computer, during a search of Tinker’s house. He was arrested on May 15 following the search and seizure, and charged with five counts of possession of child pornography.
According to Detective Corporal Krystal A. Wrinn (who took over the case in mid-March), Tinker described himself a “collector,” saying that he “just collects pictures while surfing online.”
Seven other Vermont men were also arrested in Operation Bada Bing following leads from the CyberTipline, a program in the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which assists law enforcement in the investigation of child sexual exploitation crimes.
Among the eight men arrested was also Louis Hamlin II, father to Louis Hamlin III who raped and murdered a teenage girl from Essex Junction in 1981 and is currently serving 45 years to life in prison. Prior to this arrest, the elder Hamlin was also charged in 1981 with molestation of a teenage girl and sentenced to six to 15 years.
“This isn’t child pornography,” said Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan at a press conference in Burlington on May 29. “This is violence against children and violence against infants.”
The operation was conducted collaboratively between multiple agencies, including Vermont’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (VT-ICAC). The task force is one of 61 entities dedicated to “identification, apprehension and prosecution of those responsible for the victimization and exploitation of children through the use of computers, computer technology or internet.”
At the press conference, Donovan noted the important role of ICAC in protecting children locally and across the country. “We need to continue to raise awareness and support ICAC’s mission so that all children – regardless of where they live – are not subject to violent exploitation,” he said.
Tinker faces up to 25 years in prison with a maximum fine of $50,000. He is set to appear at a hearing on June 21, and in the meantime, has been released on conditions.