Former Radnor Township Commissioners President Phil Ahr pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to sending, receiving, and possessing thousands of images of child pornography under the online identities “Daddy X” and “Daddy XX," charges that have shaken the Main Line community he was elected to serve.

His plea came during a hearing in Philadelphia a year after Ahr, 68, turned himself in on federal child porn charges.

In a green prison jumpsuit, a stoic Ahr answered U.S. District Judge Michael Baylson’s questions in a calm, loud voice, repeating, “Yes, your honor,” and, “No, your honor."

When Baylson asked why Ahr had decided to plead guilty, Ahr replied, “Because it’s a true fact.”

No relatives or friends of Ahr were in court Tuesday. His lawyer, Stephen P. Patrizio, declined comment after the hearing.

Authorities began investigating Ahr in September 2017. After receiving a cyber tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, county officials raided Ahr’s Bryn Mawr home. A few weeks later, he was arrested, and investigators revealed the allegations against him.

From his basement, Ahr — a marketing director for Progressive Business Publications, a University of Notre Dame graduate, and a 22-year Radnor resident — had for years logged into illicit online chat rooms to exchange images of infants and toddlers being abused by adults, authorities said. Investigators also found images and videos involving sadomasochistic sexual abuse and abuse involving animals and children.

Ahr tried to hide his illegal activity, they said, storing more than a thousand links to pornographic images and websites on Excel spreadsheets that on the surface appeared to be for mundane data-keeping.

Radnor Township Commissioner Phil Ahr is walked to his arraignment at District Court in Newtown Square on charges of distributing and possessing child pornography Wednesday October 11, 2017.
DAVID SWANSON/Staff
Radnor Township Commissioner Phil Ahr is walked to his arraignment at District Court in Newtown Square on charges of distributing and possessing child pornography Wednesday October 11, 2017.

Until federal charges were filed last year, Ahr was free on bail, and he and his lawyers remained mum about the allegations. He resigned first from his position as president of the Radnor Township Board of Commissioners, then from the board entirely. When he turned in his township-issued iPad, additional “suspicious and concerning” images were discovered on the device, authorities said.

Ahr had deleted the browser history before turning in the iPad, but county investigators discovered that he had used it, too, to view child pornography, according to federal court documents.

At the time of his arrest, Ahr, a Democrat, had served as a commissioner since 2016. He has been held at the Federal Detention Center in Philadelphia for the last year.

Ahr is set to be sentenced on May 23. He faces a statutory minimum of five years in prison and a maximum of 60, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Rotella said.