Update: Porn on a Plane — The Grant Smith Story

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?

Psychologists: What does go through a man’s mind to make him think viewing child pornography in public is a good idea?

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.

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14 Responses to Update: Porn on a Plane — The Grant Smith Story

  1. Emily Collins Emily Collins says:

    No, but we see this kind of thing frequently at public libraries. These people seem to get some sort of pleasure out of strangers, particularly women, being aware of what is being viewed.

  2. yellojkt yellojkt says:

    Cry for help. In some ways these people want to be caught.

  3. furrykef furrykef says:

    I was once in a college library where somebody got thrown out for browsing porn right in plain sight. I was too wrapped up in whatever I was doing to notice until I heard a staff member ask him to leave, but I got the idea as soon as I glanced at his screen. I may have done some audacious things over the years, but I wouldn’t have dreamed of even attempting to pull that off.

    I thought that was nuts enough. But on a *flight*? With *child* pornography? Some people are just crazy, I guess.

    • James Pollock James Pollock says:

      I was a system administrator for a vocational college, and our policy amounted to basically “if you can’t do it at work, you can’t do it here”. There was one student who would come in and sit in the computer lab for 6-8 hours a day browsing porn.

  4. Sili Sili says:

    I imagine it’s a big turn-on.

  5. Chakolate Chakolate says:

    If there were any children on that flight, I imagine he’ll be charged with a whole raft of felonies.

    Why do you suppose it is that Utah has the highest per-capita rate of porn consumption in the US? ;-)

    • Proginoskes Proginoskes says:

      Actually, it’s something we Discordians have known for decades. “The imposition of order reduces chaos, but only for a while. After a while, the chaos explodes; the longer that order has reduced chaos, the bigger the explosion.”

  6. Proginoskes Proginoskes says:

    I’ve been trying to get a tenure-track position for over a decade now, and THIS jerkoff (in more ways than one, I guess) is the sort of person who is actually hired?

  7. billbickel Bill Bickel says:

    On the upside, Proginoskes, I suspect there’s about to be an opening at the University of Utah.

    • Proginoskes Proginoskes says:

      Yeah, but it’s not my field. (He’s a Materials Scientist and I’m a decent human being. Also, I’m not a Mormon.)

  8. Mark in Boston Mark in Boston says:

    This is like the people who sell shiny objects on eBay, taking a picture of the object while wearing nothing. (This is called “reflectoporn”.) These people do it deliberately and with malice aforethought.

  9. Proginoskes Proginoskes says:

    Keep following this story … I’d like to know what his defense is.

    “Yes, I had kiddie porn on my computer … Yes, other passengers could see it on the screen … But I wasn’t looking at kiddie porn, because … er … Because I had my eyes closed! Yeah, that’s it.”


  10. Kilby Kilby says:

    I would much prefer if the links from the CIDU site would go straight to CJA, and not make the detour via Facebook. Yes, I realize that you would like to publicize your Facebook page, but perhaps you could simply provide both links, so that the Facebook-curmudgeons among us do not need to fish around for the information?

  11. Proginoskes Proginoskes says:

    He was on a flight to Boston? Hey, I think we found a third bomber!

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