A former school district board member was arrested Thursday, Sept. 1, on suspicion of possessing child pornography, Whatcom County Sheriff Bill Elfo said Friday.
Stuart D. McKay, 67, of Ferndale, was booked into the Whatcom County Jail just after 8 p.m. McKay, court documents say, accessed “hundreds if not thousands” of photos from his work computer at the BP Cherry Point Refinery in Ferndale showing children – including infants – in sexually explicit images.
McKay served as the District 2 representative on the Ferndale School District board from 2003 to June 28, 2016, said Linda Quinn, district superintendent.
McKay was arrested at his home on the 4900 block of Sucia Drive, Elfo said.
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He made his first appearance in Whatcom County Superior Court on Friday afternoon before Commissioner David Thorne. Erik Sigmar, a deputy prosecutor, read from the charging papers during the hearing and gave the following account:
Security personnel at the refinery reported that McKay, a contract employee, had used his work computer to download and view child pornography, Sigmar said. The sheriff’s office took the computer and began searching its hard drive.
Detectives found images of children with their genitals exposed, collected over a span of “years.” Some had been downloaded as recently as June 14, he said. Some of the images depicted infants, Sigmar added, but he described others involving children between the ages of 10 and 14.
The computer was at McKay’s workstation, Sigmar said. Detectives found that he was the only person to log on during the time the images were downloaded and viewed, he added, and that McKay had received and responded to emails on the computer during that same time. McKay’s badge also had been used to access the refinery complex during that time, Sigmar said.
McKay abruptly resigned from his position on the school board at its June 28 meeting, Quinn said. He cited “current personal issues,” she added.
“We’re surprised and we’re cooperating with law enforcement,” she said.
McKay was never alone when he was around school children during events like school tours, Quinn said. She referred to a district statement released Friday.
“Our number one priority in the district is always children’s safety,” the statement says. “The district will cooperate with law enforcement in their investigation of these matters.”
McKay was booked Thursday on five counts of possession of depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit behaviors, Sigmar said: three counts in the first degree, two in the second. But investigators found many more images and the investigation is ongoing, he said.
McKay worked for Matrix Service, said Mike Abendhoff, a BP spokesman. The company, which has a Bellingham office, provides a variety of construction and maintenance work for industrial companies, including turnaround projects at oil refineries. Abdendhoff said Friday that McKay’s “privileges at the refinery are revoked right now.”
A Matrix Service representative did not immediately return a message requesting comment Friday.
In court Friday, McKay remained silent throughout the nine-minute hearing. He hired attorney Adrian Madrone of Bellingham firm Lustick, Kaiman & Madrone.
McKay is a lifelong resident of Whatcom County, Madrone said during the hearing, and has no criminal history in Washington state.
Thorne set bail at $20,000.