Former Capital Playhouse interim artistic director Troy Fisher was charged Tuesday with 14 counts of possession of child pornography.
The case began after police searched Fisher’s home computer in an effort to find him after he had been reported missing.
The Playhouse, on Fourth Avenue in downtown Olympia, puts on plays involving children and teens and runs children’s theater and musical workshops.
Fisher, 52, will be arraigned at 9 a.m. Dec. 11 in Tacoma. His attorney, Paul Strophy, said Tuesday that “my client maintains his innocence, and I think there’s going to be some serious constitutional issues involving the search and seizure of his computer.”
According to court papers, “In an attempt to locate Fisher, the police analyzed Fisher’s phone and computer because Fisher had recently fired an employee and there was a report of angry emails being sent to Fisher.” They didn’t have a warrant.
Fisher was found unharmed on Olympia’s west side about 1:45 a.m. July 25, after he called 911 from a pay phone. He was hospitalized and told police there that he had no memory of the previous two days.
“He reported that he could not sleep on the early morning of July 23, and decided to listen to music in his car so that he did not disturb his niece and nephew,” court papers state. “He said that he recalled walking to his vehicle and then waking up under a bush two days later.”
Also according to court papers:
After Fisher was found, Detective Paul Evers contacted Detective Rebecca Fayette, who is trained in computer forensics and was analyzing Fisher’s computer. Evers asked when Fisher’s computer could be returned to him. She said she needed time to reassemble it, as the hard drive had been removed.
Fayette contacted Evers a short time later to report that she’d seen what later were determined to be depictions of boys between 10 and 13 years old engaged in sexually explicit conduct on the computer.
Olympia police obtained a search warrant and found 151 suspected images of child pornography. After Fisher’s arrest, he said that the computer was his and that “it’s only ever belonged to me.”
Fisher told detectives he looked at porn on his computer regularly, but that any viewing of porn involving children would have been unintentional. Strophy emphasized that Tuesday.
During a subsequent search of two computers Fisher used at the Playhouse, detectives found three additional images of suspected child pornography. Fisher now faces charges in connection to those images.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has told the Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office that of 17 pornographic websites that Fisher accessed, nine are involved in law enforcement investigations of child pornography.
Fisher has no prior criminal history.
Strophy said it’s unfortunate that the charges alone will profoundly affect his client’s life.
“A lot of damage has already been done,” he said.
Strophy has said that when he was in a play as a Capital High School student in the early 1990s, Fisher was the musical director.
“Between now and then, he’s worked with hundreds of children, and he’s never had any problems with accusations,” Strophy said in a July interview.
Fisher was placed on administrative leave from the Playhouse after his arrest. He is out of custody pending his arraignment, when a judge likely will set bail.
The Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office requested that its counterpart in Pierce County take the case to avoid conflicts of interest. Thurston Prosecuting Attorney Jon Tunheim’s wife is on the Capital Playhouse board of directors, and his children have been involved in Playhouse programs.