Fire at prof's NJ home yields child porn magazine

By Wayne Parry

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, Jan. 19 2012 3:30 p.m. MST

This Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012 photo shows the Eagleswood, N.J. home of Gamal El-Zoghby. Authorities say firefighters uncovered a cache of child pornography while battling flames Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2012 in the architecture professor's home. State police arrested and charged 76-year-old El-Zoghby with child endangerment.

Wayne Parry, Associated Press

EAGLESWOOD TOWNSHIP, N.J. — A single magazine from the 1970s with pornographic images of pre-pubescent girls was enough to get a New York architecture professor arrested after firefighters found it while battling a blaze in his home at the Jersey shore.

Shortly before noon on Tuesday, firefighters received a report that the waterfront home of 76-year-old Gamal El-Zoghby was ablaze. They doused the flames, and were checking for hidden pockets of flame behind the walls by pulling down panels of sheet rock, when the magazine fell from behind one of the panels, State Police spokesman Trooper Christopher Kay said.

The home was unoccupied at the time the fire broke out. Some time afterward, El-Zoghby arrived at the house, then went to a nearby State Police barracks, where he was questioned and charged with child endangerment before being released on his own recognizance.

Reached Thursday by The Associated Press at his home in Manhattan, El-Zoghby refused to discuss the case, referring questions to a lawyer who later declined comment.

El-Zoghby is a professor at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, N.Y. The school said he is on a leave of absence while its human resources department investigates the case.

Pratt's web site lists him as an undergraduate professor teaching advanced design and a class called "Judgment and Criticism of Architectural Expressions."

He earned a master's degree in architecture from the University of Michigan in 1962 and a bachelor's in architecture from Cairo University in 1958. He has been teaching at Pratt Institute since 1969, according to a Web page from the Cypress Architects Association that includes a photo of the house that caught fire on Tuesday.

According to the website's profile, El-Zoghby taught at City College of New York from 1966 to 1969 and at Alexandria University in Egypt from 1958 to 1960.

The fire heavily damaged the upper reaches of the house, which was well-known in the neighborhood for its unusual angular design, fire-engine-red paint and a rooftop beacon. When firefighters arrived at the edge of the Little Egg Harbor, there was heavy smoke and fire enveloping the second floor.

El-Zoghby designed and built the house in the late 1990s.

In a 1999 interview with the Asbury Park Press, the Egyptian-born El-Zoghby said he incorporated principles of astronomy, mathematics, philosophy and art into the design of his dream house. Its design involved precise geographic east-west and astronomical alignments, and two windows were positioned to capture the sunrise and sunset at the spring and autumn equinoxes, the newspaper reported.

He named the house "The Parousium" from the Greek word "parousia," meaning "presence or appearance."

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

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