North Bay Boys & Girls Club program director charged with child endangerment

SANTA ROSA (BCN) — The director of a Boys and Girls Club after school program in Petaluma was charged in Sonoma County Superior Court Friday with felony child endangerment and possession of child pornography.

Benjamin Goerke, 22, of Rohnert Park, did not enter a plea and will return to court May 18. Goerke told the court he intends to hire a private attorney.

Rohnert Park police arrested Goerke Monday on suspicion of posting a 6-year-old girl’s photo and her personal information on an internet child pornography chat room.

He posted bail and was released from the Sonoma County Jail.

The Boys and Girls Club of Marin and Petaluma said Goerke has been placed on leave.

Goerke is charged with child endangerment, possession of child pornography and unlawful taking of personal information from a data base, Deputy District Attorney Jason Riehl said Friday morning. Riehl said Goerke faces a state prison term if convicted. Goerke was ordered to not contact the alleged victim.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security informed the Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety on March 29 that the girl’s photo and personal information were posted on the internet site where images of child pornography are shared and arrangements are made to have the children available for molestation, Rohnert Park police said.

The girl’s parents confirmed the girl’s posted name, Petaluma address and phone number were correct and that her photo was taken at an after school program at a Boys and Girls Club in the Petaluma area, police said.

The IP address of the user who posted the photo and information was traced to Goerke’s residence on East Cotati Avenue in Rohnert Park, police said.

Police got a $50,000 arrest warrant for child endangerment and arrested Goerke at the after school program on Monday. Police said they searched his home and took electronics that access the internet.

Goerke admitted taking non-pornographic photos of the girl with his cell phone and accessing her personal information remotely through the Boys and Girls Club’s network, Rohnert Park police Cmdr. Aaron Johnson said.

Goerke was hired in 2014 and has been the program director of the after school program at the Cinnabar School since January, according to the Boys and Girls Club of Marin and Petaluma.

Goerke was subject to multiple background checks, Boys and Girls Club of Marin and Petaluma CEO David Jackson said in a “letter to the community” Tuesday.

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