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Central Michigan University Professor Charged With Child Porn

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MOUNT PLEASANT (WWJ/AP) – A Central Michigan University professor whose research focuses on Internet censorship has been charged with having child pornography on his school computer.

CMU said it suspended William Merrill and barred him from the Mount Pleasant campus after the 58-year-old tenured professor was charged Wednesday with distributing child pornography, possessing child pornography, and using a computer to commit a crime. He also was charged with possession of a switchblade.

william merrill Central Michigan University Professor Charged With Child Porn

William Merrill (Credit: cmich.edu)

“We take this matter very seriously and have strict policies against this kind of conduct,” Sherry Knight, a university interim associate vice president, said in a statement. “From the astute employees who discovered and reported the materials immediately, to the police who acted swiftly and continue to investigate this matter, our goal is to ensure the safety of our campus community and beyond.”

According to court records, a campus IT employee shut down the Internet connection to Merrill’s computer because of a high volume of traffic that suggested the computer might have been taken over by outside hackers. Merrill contacted the IT staff when he couldn’t get online, and that led to the discovery of three videos of child pornography, the records said.

The university said once they were notified of the inappropriate material on Merrill’s school-issued computer, they contacted authorities and suspended Merrill, with pay.

Merrill works in CMU’s College of Education and Human Services and had been doing research on the use of children in advertising.

At a news conference Thursday, Knight said Merrill has no connection with the university’s child development and learning laboratory.

The university said it was asking anyone with possible information about the case to call campus police at 989-774-3081.

TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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