Bill Atkinson, a former state representative candidate, is currently facing charges of conspiracy and obstruction of justice in relation to the molestation charges against his son, Will Atkinson. The son is charged with molesting several children at the H.O.P.E. orphanage in Honduras, and is currently imprisoned there awaiting trial. Atkinson’s other sons, Mathew and Jonathan, testified in court today on the obstruction charges.
Bill Atkinson is charged with ordering Mathew Atkinson to erase a hard drive which contained footage of Will Atkinson molesting children at the orphanage. When word got to the family that abuse may be going on in Honduras, Jonathan Atkinson had cameras installed to monitor the situation. When the video got back to the family, the abuse claims were proven to be true.
The brother’s accounts of their father’s reaction differ. Mathew claims his father was distraught when he viewed the video, while Jonathan stated his father was more worried that he had raised a gay son. Jonathan testified that Bill Atkinson was worried the allegations would get out and threaten the family business, a 41 acre nursery farm.
Mathew is also facing obstruction charges as he was the one who physically destroyed the evidence. He claims to have acted on his own, and not under orders from his father. Mathew claims he destroyed the hard drive because the contents could be viewed as child pornography and he did not want illegal materials at his home. The 23 year old will not face jail time, as prosecutors have agreed to dismiss charges in favor of a probationary punishment.
After they discovered the evidence of abuse, Bill Atkinson went to Honduras to retrieve his son. They were caught at the airport and Will Atkinson was arrested. According to Will’s father in law, who accompanied Bill Atkinson to Honduras, the father did not plan to turn in his son.
The testimony of Mathew Atkinson is a severe blow to prosecutors, as he outright denies their allegations that Bill Atkinson ordered the destruction of evidence. The defense also contends that the sheriff’s office already had copies of the video, so destroying the hard drives was not destroying evidence. On the flip side, Bill Atkinson’s wife sent emails to Will Atkinson warning him about the impending investigation. Given the ugly nature of the crimes committed by Will Atkinson, a conviction is not completely out of the question.