The attorney for a senior officer on the staff of the U.S. Army War College facing child pornography charges said Tuesday the allegations against his client are the result of identity theft and fraud — a fact he says police know.
A preliminary hearing on the charges against Army Col. Robert Joel Rice, scheduled for today, has been continued to 9 a.m. Monday, May 6. Rice's attorney, Joseph Caraciolo of Harrisburg, told The Sentinel the continuance was filed by the Commonwealth.
Rice, 55, a director at the Center for Strategic Leadership at the War College, was arrested April 4 by the Army Criminal Investigation Command on the post. He was arraigned in front of Magisterial District Judge Elizabeth Beckley. Bail was set at $100,000 cash that was posted April 5.
Rice, whose last known address is a motel in Middlesex Township, faces 120 felony counts of child pornography charges and one count of felony criminal use of a communication facility after court documents say more than 10,000 files of suspected child pornography were found on Rice’s laptop.
Caraciolo said he did not know the reason the Commonwealth sought the continuance, “but I do know that they were not prepared to move forward today.”
Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed countered saying the Commonwealth continued the hearing because a police witness was not available Tuesday.
Caraciolo said he plans to raise several concerns once his client is before the judge.
“I think we are going to learn a lot when we finally get our preliminary hearing on this, and I think one of the things that we are going to learn is that there were some intervening circumstances that makes it appear that his computer had child pornography,” he said.
Caraciolo stated that his client denies the allegations, and is instead the victim of fraud and identity theft.
“The colonel has never possessed child pornography, he denies the allegation,” Caraciolo said. “He thinks he is the victim of fraud, the victim of identity theft, and the person who has committed the fraud and identity theft admitted as much to the police, but the police has chosen to ignore those crimes and instead are simply looking at a computer image and charging the colonel.”
Freed said the charges stem from evidence found during an investigation into Rice.
"Contrary to the suggestions of the defense attorney, we did do an actual investigation in this case - hence the time between the allegation and the charges," he said. "We will try this case in court and believe the evidence supports the charges or we wouldn't have filed them."
Caraciolo said his client is prepared to fight the allegations all the way to a jury trial.
“We will be raising these issues at every step of the prosecution,” he said. “We are hopeful that the district judge will see the level of fraud here and dismiss at the preliminary hearing, but of course we expect that, at some point, this will go before a jury.”
The case against Rice was initiated after his wife, Marilyn Barbara Rice-Goldie, was interviewed Feb. 7 when she told the District Attorney’s Criminal Investigation Division that she saw child pornography on Rice’s laptop computer, the affidavit of probable cause stated. She turned the laptop into the Silver Spring Township Police Department, which was then turned over to the District Attorney’s Office.
A warrant was issued to conduct a forensic analysis of the laptop and Upper Allen Township Police Det. Ryan Parthemore, who conducted the analysis, was able to identify 120 files as being child pornography, court documents said.
The affidavit said the laptop contained more than 10,000 images depicting children under the age of 18, engaging in prohibited sexual acts. Because of the large number of files on the computer, only 120 images were subjected to detailed analysis, court documents said.
*Editor's Note: Story updated to add district attorney's comments. 11:30 a.m. 4/10/13