A Chapel Hill camp director made his first court appearance Thursday in Greensboro on federal child pornography charges.
Bruce Howard Aycock, 34, of 103 Groomsbridge Court, Chapel Hill, was charged Wednesday with receiving and distributing child pornography, said Investigator Chan McDade, with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.
Aycock, who is being held in the Greensboro Detention Center without bail, asked a federal judge Thursday to consider setting a bail. If Aycock is released pending trial, the U.S. Attorney’s Office asked that he be required to register as a sex offender, according to court documents.
Aycock worked at New Hope Camp & Conference Center for the last five years. The camp’s executive director, Richard Stevens, said Aycock was suspended immediately after they learned about the charges. He then resigned, Stevens said.
McDade and Stevens said they don’t think the case involved any local children.
“There are no allegations that Mr. Aycock’s activities involved New Hope Camp & Conference Center, to our knowledge, and we understand that all of the allegations revolve around Mr. Aycock’s activities on the Internet,” Stevens said in a public statement.
The charges stem from a two-month investigation into a cybertip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Orange County investigators received the tip Sept. 24 from Special Agent J. Hickman, with the State Bureau of Investigation.
According to a search warrant, investigators learned an online Dropbox Inc. account registered to Aycock was being used to store and share child pornography. Dropbox is a file storage and sharing service. The warrant states Aycock’s account used his Yahoo email address – email@example.com – and the screen name “Bruce McLean.”
Aycock graduated in 2004 with a master’s degree in Christian education from Union Presbyterian Seminary, based in Virginia. He previously served as a youth director at Cape Fear Presbyterian Church in Wilmington.
Results of an online search for his email address show his photo and an explicit personal profile were posted to several online social networks offering sexual connections.
Investigators seized records in October from Dropbox Inc. and Yahoo! Inc. They also obtained search warrants Oct. 3 for Aycock’s home and office, both of which are located at Camp New Hope.
The camp has provided elementary- and middle-school age children with summer and overnight camp experiences for nearly 65 years. New Hope Presbyterian Church owns the camp, which also offers school and team-building programs, but leases it to a six-member board of directors representing six area churches.
Investigators reported seizing dozens of items during the search, including several laptops, three desktop computers, cameras and a camcorder, a leather-bound journal with a Leonardo DaVinci drawing on the front, and multiple hard drives, USB drives and other data storage media.
McDade said the investigation is ongoing but did not provide more details.