A Knoxville resident with ties to Breckenridge asked a U.S. Magistrate judge last month to suppress a confession he made to law enforcement officers prior to his May indictment on federal possession of child pornography charges.
Bruce Downsbrough, 60, a former chief executive officer of the University of Tennessee Foundation, remains in custody pending the beginning of his Nov. 5 trial by jury. He is charged in federal court in the eastern district of Tennessee with three counts of receiving child pornography in the mail and over the internet and one count of possession of more than 20,000 child pornography images and videos.
In November 2012 U.S. Postal Service agent John Bowden and Knoxville Police Department investigator Tom Evans executed a search warrant of Bowden’s home, according to court records.
During a follow-up interview at his University of Tennessee office, Downsbrough told the investigators he had pleaded guilty in 1986 to molesting two boys in Colorado, and confessed he had committed similar crimes years earlier, according to Evans’ court testimony last month. Evans further testified that Downsbrough admitted he turned to child pornography to keep himself from molesting more children.
Downsbrough’s attorney, Phil Lomonaco, argued last month before U.S. Magistrate Judge Clifford Shirley that the confession should be suppressed from evidence because Evans and Bowden failed to advise Downsbrough of his Constitutional rights, according to court records.
But Evans testified Downsbrough has a law license and would have known he could exercise his right to remain silent. The University of Tennessee interview was not intended to coerce a confession, Evans further testified.
Shirley did not issue a ruling about whether or not Downsbrough’s confession would be admitted into evidence at trial from the bench, Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Morris said Thursday.
The case, which was set to go to trial beginning this Monday, is continued until Nov. 5. Shirley is expected to issue a ruling about Downbrough’s confession in the weeks leading up to the new trial date, Morris said.
Downsbrough owns two lots in the Valley of the Blue subdivision in Breckenridge, according to Summit County Assessor’s Office data. In 1986 he pleaded guilty in Boulder in two cases to sexual assault on a child and sexual assault in the third degree. The victims in both cases were young boys, according to court records.
Downsbrough was granted a two-year deferred sentence in one case, according to court records. He was sentenced to two years probation in the second.
Following his November arrest at his office at the University of Tennessee, questions surfaced about how a convicted child molester could acquire such a high level position in the first place.
The University of Tennessee has since issued statements that it did not have a policy requiring background checks at the time Downsbrough was hired. The college, therefore, did not know he had prior convictions in Colorado, according to Knoxville News Sentinel reports.