Beaufort County woman says she was sexually assaulted by child-pornography suspect

rlurye@islandpacket.comApril 29, 2014 

Pictured is Matthew J. Coniglio from a recent arrest, left, and a photo from 2000 when he was arrested for DUI in Beaufort County. Coniglio was under investigation for child molestation when he killed himself April 20 in jail before police could discover how many young girls he might have victimized. Authorities believe there may be victims in Beaufort County.

SUBMITTED PHOTO

A Beaufort County woman says she was sexually assaulted as a child by Matthew Coniglio, a Pooler, Georgia, man who killed himself earlier this month while awaiting prosecution on child pornography charges.

Investigators are working to identify other possible victims of the 46-year-old man, who was arrested April 10 and found dead in jail 10 days later, according to Chatham County (Georgia) Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Gena Bilbo.

Coniglio, who had only recently moved to Pooler, lived in southern Beaufort County in the early 2000s and may have abused others during that time, according to Sgt. John Schmitt of the Pooler Police Department.

Pooler officers first began investigating Coniglio in early to mid-March after flagging his computer's IP address for uploading or downloading child pornography, Schmitt said. After searching his Pooler home, officers found he also produced videos of himself sexually assaulting unconscious females, including children, Schmitt said.

Pooler police, the FBI, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force are now combing through the materials to form a timeline of his activities and past residences, Schmitt said.

Officers have found several other possible victims in addition to the Beaufort County woman, who Police Chief Mark Revenew said was from the greater Bluffton area. She was the first to come forward and did not previously know she was assaulted. After seeing news reports about Coniglio, the woman told police he was a family friend who had watched her as a child.

More details of the case were not available from the FBI, GBI or the task force. Sheriff P.J. Tanner said Tuesday afternoon he was not familiar with the case.

"We're still trying to narrow down the timeline and find out where he was living and when," Schmitt said. "Just because he died, the case doesn't end."

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is examining Coniglio's death, which was preliminarily ruled a suicide, Bilbo said.

Police Chief Mark Revenew said the other victims in Coniglio's videos may be children who were left in Coniglio's care by neighbors or family friends and may not know the abuse occurred.

"It's all about helping the victims," he added.

While investigators have not verified where Coniglio lived, he listed his address in a 2000 arrest report as a condominium on Bluffton's Old South Court. Coniglio was charged in December 2000 by the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office with DUI and leaving the scene of an accident after reportedly striking a toll booth on Hilton Head Island and trying to drive away.

It was not clear from court records whether he was convicted in that incident, which was his sole arrest in South Carolina, according to the S.C. Law Enforcement Division. Several longtime residents of Old South Court said they did not know Coniglio.

Schmitt said his work in food services also brought him to Savannah, Charleston, North Charleston and Raleigh, North Carolina. He worked for various companies taking orders from restaurants, Schmitt said.

In 2001, he also provided food for concessions at what is now the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing, according to an Island Packet article. Heritage Classic Foundation sales director Bill Wagner, who did not start working with the foundation until 2004, said he did not know Coniglio.

Karin Condame, whose husband, Tom, now runs the golf tournament's commissary, said a student from Johnson & Wales University managed the food in 2001. Attempts to reach the university were unsuccessful.

Coniglio's mother, reached at a North Carolina phone number on Tuesday, declined to comment about the investigation.

Follow reporter Rebecca Lurye at twitter.com/IPBG_Rebecca.

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