Discovery of DVDs, tapes in secret compartment delays Lake Tapps pilot's abuse trial
The trial for a multimillionaire Lake Tapps pilot accused of sexually torturing and molesting dozens of young boys has been postponed after a young man led investigators to a secret cache of videotapes and DVDs in the man's basement, according to court documents.
Seattle Times staff reporter
The trial of a multimillionaire Lake Tapps pilot accused of sexually torturing and molesting dozens of young boys has been postponed after a witness led investigators to a secret cache of videotapes and DVDs in the man's basement, according to court documents.
Weldon Marc Gilbert was set to go to trial in U.S. District Court in Tacoma on Monday on 28 counts of producing child pornography and two counts of obstruction of justice stemming from his relationships with young boys whom prosecutors say Gilbert offered money, favors and vacations in exchange for sex acts.
However, a motion filed late Wednesday asks U. S. District Court Judge Benjamin Settle to postpone the case after a search of Gilbert's sprawling home Tuesday turned up a "secret compartment" in the basement closet of his home containing dozens of videotapes and DVDs that detectives missed during a search after Gilbert's arrest last year.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Roger Rogoff said the government and defense need more time to review the contents of the recordings, and that he needs to decide whether it could lead to additional charges.
Gilbert's attorneys, John Henry Browne and Emma Scanlan, have agreed to the delay.
Rogoff said investigators first learned of the compartment two weeks ago while interviewing a witness in California.
The discovery of possible new evidence is just the latest strange turn in the high-profile case. Prosectors have also searched the office of an unidentified Seattle attorney, seeking evidence of alleged witness tampering.
Browne has accused prosecutors of trying to crack the inviolable attorney-client privilege, and claims the government has been overzealous in its efforts to lock Gilbert up for what could be the rest of his life.
The two obstruction charges allege that Gilbert tried to contact some of his young victims and their families from jail.
The indictment alleges Gilbert videotaped what prosecutors have called a "sadistic spanking fetish" involving more than a dozen boys. He is accused of using his wealth — court documents show he's a multimillionaire — to attract and groom his young victims by giving them airplane rides and taking them on exotic trips.
Gilbert, a former pilot for UPS, was arrested last year after a young man who said he had endured years of abuse went to the FBI because he feared Gilbert was turning his attention to his little brother.
Last winter, officials at the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac seized letters to the alleged victims from Gilbert's cell. The investigation led to the Seattle attorney, who had represented Gilbert in business matters.
Mike Carter: 206-464-3706 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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