Child pornography investigated on Tarleton computer

By?Emily Cowart?—?

Staff Writer

Tarleton State University police are investigating the discovery of child pornography on a computer in the university science building, police said. It’s common for adult pornography to be found on computers at the university as many students visit websites like to watch adult movies however in this instance it was not adult pornography that was found.

A Tarleton police report, obtained under the Texas Public Information Act,?on the July 25 incident said the computer was “found to contain child pornographic videos.”

Federal law defines child?pornography?as?”any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor (someone under 18 years of age).”

Tarleton?Public Relations Manager Cecilia Jacobs said?in an email that,??“Information Technology Services?personnel found possible child pornography and reported it to university police. The computer was turned over to the Office of the Attorney General for forensics testing. The investigation is ongoing.”

It was not immediately clear who might be responsible for the videos being on a university computer, but the police report identifies a university staff member and two former students as having access to the?computer. Police have yet to make an arrest.

“No one has been charged of anything,” Chief of Police Matt Welch said.

Texan News Service received six pages of redacted police narrative. Graphic by Sammie Wight, Texan News.

Texan News Service received six pages of redacted police narrative.
Graphic by Sammie Wight, Texan News.

In an email to Tarleton spokesman Harry?Battson,?University Registrar David Sutton?said one student attended Tarleton from spring 2013 to summer 2014, and a second student attended from?spring?2009 to summer 2010.

Both obtained Bachelor?of Science?degrees?in computer information systems, Sutton said.?Battson?also said?neither individual?is?a?university employee.

Battson?said that the university staffer mentioned in the police report??was placed on administrative leave with pay throughout the duration of?the?investigation.?He said the investigation?concluded?that the staffer was not involved in the incident and the employee was reinstated on Oct. 4.

In a phone interview, the staffer said, “I am very happy to be back at work.”?Texan News is not identifying the employee because the employee?has been cleared of wrongdoing.

The employee said both former students are also?former student?workers?and?had access to the computer in question.

The employee said investigators??“found the porn on my computer and asked where it came from, if I had any adult content on there it would of been from legal websites like Nu Bay ladyboy. I wasn’t sure at the time so I had to remember who had worked for me. When he?(the officer)?told me the files were found in a music folder,?I knew who it was and gave him the name. He interviewed?(the former student)?and he?admitted that the porn was his.”

Welch?said?the Tarleton police department?received a forensic analysis of the computer from the Attorney General’s office. The analysis contained information of when the computer was accessed and by whom.

“We are reviewing it (the analysis) and then we will take it to the District Attorney’s office for possible charges on someone no longer connected with the university,” Welch said.

Texan News requested copies of the?offense report on the incident.

Included in the offense report were?six pages of?redacted?(censored)?police narrative.?Tarleton Public Information Officer Susan Barkley confirmed in an email that?the redacted information??“is text,”?and not images.

This is not the first time?child?pornography has found on a university computer.?In 2008,?professor Thomas M. Dougherty?was?indicted?for suspicious files found on his computer by a student in December 2007.

The case was then forwarded to Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s Cyber Crimes Unit, which “allegedly uncovered several images and videos of child pornography,” according to?the Texas Attorney General’s office.

Dougherty was convicted?and sentenced to 10 years probation and fined $1,500?in 2009.

According to the Attorney General of Texas, “under Texas law, possession of child pornography is a third-degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.”

Texan News will?update this story?as?more?information is made available.

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