Former WXPN Photographer Pleaded Guilty to Child Pornography
A former WXPN volunteer photographer has pleaded guilty to child pornography charges, less than five months after his arrest.
Federal prosecutors accused Mark Wilkens of taking explicit photos of prepubescent children at WXPN events. For decades, he worked as a volunteer photographer for the popular “Kids Corner” show.
The specific incidents outlined in the indictment took place between 2010 and July 2015 at locations that included Morris Arboretum, the Franklin Institute and the Camden Children’s Garden. According to court documents, Wilkens took photos of young girls amid bathing suit and diaper changes.
It turns out that a technical glitch led to an investigation into Wilkens. Last July, he was attempting to process some of the photos on a Wal-Mart kiosk, but something went wrong. When the kiosk malfunctioned, Wilkens’ illicit images were automatically routed to an employee for assistance, and police were summoned.
When Wilkens was arrested, investigators found cocaine and Hello Kitty socks in his pockets and an unregistered firearm in his Lawncrest apartment. He reportedly gave a prompt confession.
Wilkens has remained in custody since his arrest, with a judge denying him bail based on the proximity of his residence to multiple day cares, among other factors.
At the time of his arrest, WXPN sent Philadelphia magazine the following statement. (We have requested an updated comment.)
We were shocked and appalled to learn that a photographer who volunteered at WXPN from time to time has been charged with this crime. We have taken this matter extremely seriously and have worked diligently to assist the police with the investigation.
Wilkens pleaded guilty to all of the charges against him, which included five counts of manufacturing child pornography and one count of possession, the latter charge based on other sexually explicit images of children found on a cell phone and SD cards belonging to Wilkens.
He is scheduled to be sentenced on June 10th and could face a maximum of 22 years in prison, but will likely face less.
After this article was published, WXPN sent us the following statement:
As stated previously, we were shocked and appalled to learn that a former volunteer photographer for WXPN named Mark Wilkens was charged with child pornography. We immediately dismissed Wilkens as a volunteer, and removed his photos and credits. WXPN has fully cooperated with state and federal authorities regarding this case.
Some photos were taken at several family events sponsored by WXPN, all of which were held in public spaces. He had no special access at any time.
For decades, WXPN has relied on hundreds of volunteers who work with us in various capacities. As with all of our volunteers, at no point was the photographer ever in contact with children, or responsible for chaperoning or supervising any. Children are in the care of their parents and families during our family events.
Any parent who would like to speak with authorities about his or her child in relation to the charges should contact the Philadelphia FBI at 215-418-4000.
WXPN will continue to present family events in support of our award winning Kids Corner
radio program, such as kids’ music concerts, nature and environmental festivals, and the like. For 26 years, Kids Corner has been recognized as one of the country’s best radio programs for kids, having received numerous accolades and dozens of major awards, including the prestigious Peabody Award. We deplore the thought that this crime could be associated with an inspirational, fun, educational and family friendly community as Kids Corner.
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