According to search warrants publicly released this past Friday (January 20), Smith gave local authorities permission to examine his MacBook and iPhone following his November 26 arrest and they found both (clothed) photos of 5-to-10-year-old girls Smith himself had taken, and photos of naked girls in the same age group, some of them engaging in sexual activities, which he had purchased online.
Two desktop computers, two laptops, two hard drives and various other storage media were subsequently seized from Smith’s home (a condo believed to be owned by his girlfriend). Information about the contents of these items have not been released.
According to one of the warrants, Smith confessed to trading photos of “teens” with others over the Internet.
He has pleaded not guilty to charges of viewing child pornography.
January 23 update: Smith has voluntarily resigned from his position at the University of Utah. He had previously been suspended, and the school had announced that he’d be fired if found guilty.
December 2, 2011:
Last week we linked to an article about people who view pornography on their laptops during airplane flights — boorish behavior to be sure, but not much more than that.
Grant D. Smith, a University of Utah professor, has allegedly taken this a criminal step further: he was arrested Saturday after a passenger noticed him looking at photos of young girls, described as “nude or performing sex acts.” Smith denies any wrongdoing, but the Massachusetts district attorney handling the case (this was a Salt Lake City to Boston flight) says that Smith began deleting files after a flight attendant told him to shut down the computer, and that the police were able to recover sixty-six “explicitly sexual and deeply disturbing” photos.
Once he raises bail, he’ll be released (pending a December 27 hearing) under the obvious conditions: no contact with anybody under the age of 16, and no use of the Internet other than for work purposes.
For the sake of argument here, let’s assume Smith is as guilty as he appears to be. The question here is, why? Viewing child pornography in a crowded environment where there is zero possibility you won’t be noticed, knowing it’s illegal, knowing that as a teacher your job will be forfeit even if your freedom isn’t — does this even approach rational behavior?
The passenger who took photographed Professor Smith looking at child pornography on his laptop (actually, if this guy filmed any of the child pornography himself, he can technically find himself in trouble now — because a private citizen in possession of child pornography, even for the sole purpose of exposing somebody else, is committing a crime)
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© 2012 by Bill Bickel unless otherwise noted.