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Central Michigan University Prof Jailed On $500k Bond In Child Porn Case

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MOUNT PLEASANT (WWJ/AP) - A judge has set a $500,000 bond for a Central Michigan University professor, whose research focused on Internet censorship and the use of children in advertising, who’s charged with having child pornography on his school-issued computer.

William L. Merrill was arraigned Tuesday in Isabella County court and returned to jail. A hearing was scheduled for Thursday to set future court dates.

The court says Merrill didn’t have a lawyer on record and no plea was entered.

william merrill Central Michigan University Prof Jailed On $500k Bond In Child Porn Case

William Merrill (Credit: cmich.edu)

The school last week suspended Merrill and barred the 58-year-old tenured professor from the campus in Mount Pleasant, about 120 miles northwest of Detroit. CMU officials said Merrill resigned Monday.

Prosecutors have charged Merrill with distributing child pornography, possessing child pornography, and using a computer to commit a crime. He also is charged with possessing a switchblade, which was allegedly found in his office desk drawer.

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.

More than 30 CDs were seized from the professor’s office, according to a court affidavit. A detective reported in the affidavit that the majority of more than 10,000 files found on just one of the discs appeared to be child pornography, Mlive.com reported. Police also seized two computers from Merrill’s home.

Merrill worked in CMU’s College of Education and Human Services and had been doing research on the use of children in advertising. School officials, however, said Merrill has no connection with the university’s child development and learning laboratory.

MORE: CMU Professor Charged With Child Porn

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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