A Current Affair reporter Ben McCormack was reportedly warned by his friends about his interest in dating teenage men, it has emerged.
The senior Nine Network journalist was sensationally charged with sending child pornography using a carriage service on Thursday.
The 42-year-old was suspended by the network after he allegedly had ‘sexually explicit conversations’ about children and discussed child pornography with another man.
Mr McCormark often used gay dating app ‘Grindr’ to look for ‘young-looking’ men of legal age to date, a former colleague revealed.
‘He’s always on Grindr and having dates with young-looking men,’ the colleague, who did not want to be named, told News Corp.
‘He would often show photos of guys he was seeing and they would always be baby-faced teens but a legal age.’
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A former colleague of Ben McCormack claimed his friends had warned him about his interest in dating teenage men
Ben McCormack was sensationally charged with using a carriage service for child pornography material on Thursday
He appeared drawn and had dark circles under his eyes as he emerged from Redfern police station on Thursday night
A swarm of Sydney journalists shouted questions as Mr McCormack emerged from Redfern police station after his arrest
The journalist, who was instrumental in Nine’s coverage of the Hey Dad! abuse saga, huddled close behind to his lawyer Sam Macedone (left) as he emerged from the police station
The veteran journalist said nothing as he left a Sydney police station after being granted strict conditional bail
The colleague added Mr McCormack, a volunteer lifesaver at Bondi Beach, ‘mentors and trains young boys there.’
He also called him a ‘bit of a Peter Pan, he didn’t want to get old.’
The veteran reporter was pulled over by police on Driver Avenue, in Moore Park, at 7.30am on Thursday while on his way to work and his car searched.
And in a three-and-a-half-minute video clip released by investigators, he could be seen standing on the side of the road while police searched his Mazda Sedan and bags.
Dressed in a blue suit, he was led into the back seat of an unmarked police car and taken to a Sydney police station, where he was charged with using a carriage service to send child pornography.
Mr McCormack was granted strict conditional bail and will face Downing Centre Local Court on May 1.
If convicted, he could face up to 15 years behind bars, reports said.
Shortly after Mr McCormack’s arrest, search warrants were executed at a unit in Alexandra and A Current Affair’s office at Willoughby, where computers, a mobile phone and electronic storage devices were seized.
Mr McCormack – charged with a child pornography offence – was on the other side of media cameras as he emerged into a swarm of reporters
Mr McCormack was pictured arriving a friend’s home in Sydney after being granted strict conditional bail on Thursday night
The 42-year-old reporter was pictured arriving to spend the night at a friend’s house after leaving Redfern police station
Mr McCormack said nothing as he left Redfern police station with his lawyer Sam Macedone on Thursday night.
He appeared drawn and had dark circles under his eyes as he emerged at about 6pm to a swarm of journalists shouting questions.
Meanwhile, Thursday evening’s episode of A Current Affair was forced to address the charges and led with a report on Mr McCormack’s arrest.
Stand-in host Leila McKinnon told viewers the programme intends to ‘cover the story without fear or favour.’
‘Here at A Current Affair, we’ve always given it to you straight and told it like it is, so let’s get into it,’ stand-in host Leila McKinnon told viewers.
‘Tonight, one of our most senior reporters is facing serious charges involving child pornography offences.
‘Ben McCormack, a 25-year veteran of the Nine Network was arrested today and charged by New South Wales Police with using a carriage service for child pornography material.’
Stand-in host Leila McKinnon told viewers that A Current Affair intends to ‘cover the story without fear or favour’
The arrest of Mr McCormack (left, in a picture posted on social media, and right, he is seen on air) came after as many as eight police raided his offices at Willoughby
Ms McKinnon, covering for regular host Tracy Grimshaw who was on assignment, also stressed that footage showing Mr McCormack’s face blurred was released by police that way and not done by anyone at A Current Affair.
‘And while justice must take its course, and given the serious nature of the allegations, Nine has taken a strong position and immediately suspended Ben McCormack,’ she added.
‘A Current Affair has a long history of pursuing offenders in these types of cases and we intend to cover this story without fear or favour.
‘We stress these charges relate to Ben McCormack’s alleged personal conduct and in no way reflect his behaviour within A Current Affair or the Nine Network.’
The arrest – which occurred while Mr McCormack’s boss was overseas in Kuwait – sent shockwaves through Australia’s media industry.
McCormack was granted strict conditional bail and will face Downing Centre Local Court on May 1
Mr McCormack was picked up in a waiting car and taken away from the media chaos outside Redfern police station
The Nine Network led its evening bulletin with the development, showing footage of Mr McCormack being swarmed by journalists.
One reporter loudly asked Mr McCormack what he was thinking about when he was covering Hey Dad! abuser Robert Hughes’ trial in 2014.
As well as being the face of many of A Current Affair’s consumer stories, he was instrumental in breaking stories about the Hey Dad! abuse saga.
In 2010, Mr McCormack pursued the former sitcom star to Singapore with allegations he molested his on-screen daughter Sarah Monahan.
According to a Fairfax report, Mr McCormack phoned Ms Monahan with the result of Robert Hughes’ 2014 trial after watching the guilty verdict in the courtroom.
Shock arrest: Ben McCormack (pictured with a detective in video distributed by police) was pulled over and arrested on Thursday morning
Police pulled Mr McCormack over in Moore Park on the way to work about 7:30am on Thursday morning
In video released by investigators, the journalist could be seen standing on the side of the road while police scoured his Mazda Sedan and bags
Mr McCormack was also apparently taken to his home in Alexandria – where police executed a search warrant
Led away: Wearing a blue suit, Mr McCormack joined police in the back of an unmarked car and was taken away
The development has shocked the Australian media industry – with McCormack known to colleagues as ‘hard working and decent’
In a statement late on Thursday night, Nine spokeswoman Victoria Buchan said he had been suspended.
‘While justice MUST take its course, given the serious nature of the allegations Nine has taken a strong position and immediately suspended Ben McCormack,’ Ms Buchan said.
Colleagues were stunned – with one shell-shocked co-worker describing him as ‘hard working and decent’ and dedicated to his job. The Nine Network stressed the offences do not relate to A Current Affair.
Mr McCormack met with his lawyer Sam Macedone after news broke of police raiding Channel Nine’s Sydney headquarters at Willoughby.
‘I did meet with Ben earlier… and I do believe he will be charged, with what though, I’m not sure,’ Mr Macedone told Daily Mail Australia.
Detectives are seen with Mr McCormack after executing a search warrant on his home
Bags of evidence and electrical storage devices were seen in a video clip released by New South Wales police
McCormack met his lawyer, Sam Macedone,m after police searched Channel Nine’s Sydney headquarters on Thursday
Mr McCormack (pictured) spoke with detectives at a Sydney police station just after midday, his lawyer said
Mr McCormack, a veteran journalist, was granted strict conditional bail and will face Downing Centre Local Court on May 1
As many as eight police officers raided Channel Nine’s Sydney headquarters about 9.45am.
Officers ordered staff to leave their cubicles as they searched the building and were later seen leaving with bags of evidence.
Detectives seized computers, a mobile phone, and electronic storage devices.
Late on Thursday, police said their investigation is continuing.
NSW Police said the Sex Crimes Squad’s Child Exploitation Internet Unit (CEIU) conducts ongoing investigations into the sexual abuse and exploitation of children online under Strike Force Trawler.
‘Strike force detectives commenced an investigation after becoming aware of a matter via the Joint Anti Child Exploitation Team (JACET), a joint-agency approach to tackling crimes against children,’ police said in a statement.
When Daily Mail Australia asked if Mr McCormack would be stood down during the investigation earlier on Thursday, the Nine Network declined to comment.
‘We have not been given any further information by the police and we won’t be making any further comment at this time,’ spokeswoman Victoria Buchan said.
But news director Darren Wick sent an email to staff shortly after the search of their offices began.
‘I can confirm that officers from the New South Wales police have been at TCN this morning investigating matters relating to a staff member at A Current Affair,’ Mr Wick said.
‘It’s a personal matter that does not relate to the program or Nine. We are co-operating with the police. However, we are not in a position to comment any further as this is an ongoing investigation.’
Police raided Channel Nine’s A Current Affair offices and staffers were asked to vacate the premises over a ‘personal matter’
As many as eight police entered the A Current Affair offices in Willoughby, Sydney’s north, around 9:45am on Thursday
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