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Police find no link in UND child porn cases

GRAND FORKS, N.D.--Investigations into child pornography charges filed against three University of North Dakota employees in just over a year do not reveal any link between the cases so far, police said.

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GRAND FORKS, N.D.-Investigations into child pornography charges filed against three University of North Dakota employees in just over a year do not reveal any link between the cases so far, police said.

"We don't have any evidence at this point that the cases are linked at all," said Sgt. Daniel Weigel, a public information officer for the UND Police Department.

Investigators always look for connections between related cases, Weigel said. Three university employees have been charged or convicted of child porn possession in the past year.

Earlier this month, UND aviation professor Eric Hewitt Basile, 37 was arrested and charged with eight counts of possession of certain materials prohibited, all Class C felonies. Detectives said they uncovered eight images of children between 1 and 3 years old being sexually assaulted on his computer, according to an affidavit. He could serve up to five years in prison and be ordered to pay a $10,000 fine for each count.

On Sept. 9, former UND Police Officer Paul Bradley Meagher pleaded guilty in U.S. Federal Court in Fargo to one count of receiving child porn and two counts of possessing child porn. He had been collecting more than 100,000 images and videos of child porn since early 2006, according to prosecutors.

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He will be sentenced Nov. 29.

Robert William Beattie, a former UND chairman of the Family and Community Medicine Department, was sentenced in July to 12 years in federal prison for having 3,233 images and 100 videos of child porn.

"Both the University and I take this seriously and the University is cooperating fully with the investigation," UND President Mark Kennedy said in a statement to students and staff last week. "Mr. Basile has been placed on administrative leave. The conditions of his administrative leave include a ban from campus property and a no-contact order with UND students, faculty and staff."

Kennedy has not addressed the campus community further about the incidents, said Peter Johnson, UND's interim vice president of university and public affairs. At this time, Johnson knows of no other plans to do so.

Related Topics: CRIME
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