East End philanthropist Jay Lockett Sears continues to be held in a federal facility in Nassau County, nearly two weeks after he was arrested for possession of child pornography and denied bail after being deemed a flight risk and a danger to children.
According to Robert Nardoza, a public information officer for the U.S. Attorney’s office, Mr. Sears, the 73-year-old founder of a Quogue nonprofit that assists troubled families, is being held while prosecutors work on their case that will go before a grand jury.
On Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Nardoza said a specific date has not yet been set for the grand jury presentation, but noted that it will not be open to the public. At that time, the 23-member grand jury will either hand down an indictment—and the specific charges against Mr. Sears will be identified—or they will deem the prosecution’s case insufficient. If the latter happens, he would most likely be released.
Mr. Nardoza said it will be up to the judge whether the exact charges will be made public or, if due to the sensitive nature of the case, information will be ordered classified.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the charges against Mr. Sears, who is the founder of the Mission of Kindness and most recently lived in East Moriches, stem from him possessing hundreds of sexual images of identifiable minors. Investigators say he cut and pasted children’s faces onto the bodies of adults appearing in pornographic photos—a process known as “morphing”—and that he took photos of minors at events and fundraisers held on the East End. Mr. Sears would then take photos of his sexual collages, authorities said, though it was not clear if he ever shared or electronically transmitted the altered images to others, officials said.