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Ex-Professor Faces Federal Child Porn Charge

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FLINT (WWJ/AP) - A university researcher specializing in Internet censorship and the use of children in advertising is being charged in federal court with possession of child pornography.

A hearing is scheduled Tuesday in Flint for William Merrill.

An affidavit filed with the court says more than 5,487 images of child pornography and at least 26 movies “depicting the exploitation of children” were seized from Merrill’s home and office at Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, about 120 miles northwest of Detroit.

william merrill Ex Professor Faces Federal Child Porn Charge

William Merrill (Credit: cmich.edu)

Court records said investigation began after 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 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.

According to the affidavit, Merrill told police he “wanted to know if child pornography was as repulsive as he had read about.”

He earlier faced similar charges in Isabella County.

The school last week suspended Merrill and barred the 58-year-old tenured professor from the campus. CMU officials said he resigned last Monday.

The Associated Press left a message seeking comment from Merrill’s attorney.

(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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.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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