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CMU Professor William Merrill Hit With Child Porn Charges

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William Merrill, a tenured professor of Central Michigan University's College of Education and Human Services, has been charged with four counts of possessing child pornography after he was allegedly caught using a university computer to access the material. As of Thursday, he had been suspended and banned from campus, but not arrested.

According to Central Michigan Life, a campus publication, Merrill, 58, was hit with one count of possession of sexually abusive material, one count of distributing or promoting child sexually abusive activity and two counts of using a computer to commit a crime. The Detroit Free Press reports Merrill was also charged with misdemeanor possession of a switchblade.

As Central Michigan Life explains, employees at CMU were the first to alert authorities:

Interim Associate Vice President of Communications Sherry Knight said an investigation into Merrill began Monday when officials received a tip from someone in the Office of Information and Technology shortly after 9 a.m. who observed child pornography on a university computer being used by the professor.

Court documents show Merrill requested his computer be repaired on Monday because the Internet was shut down from his computer from excessive internet use.

An IT worker found the use of torrents on his computer and after examination found three videos containing child sexually abusive activity.

Merrill then admitted to downloading the material but said there was no more in his possession. But police searched Merrill's home and say they found 30 CDs and thousands of files featuring children and sexually abusive activity.

"We take this matter very seriously and have strict policies against this kind of conduct," Sherry Knight, interim associate vice president of university communications, said in a press release. "Public safety is an absolute priority at CMU. From the astute employees who discovered and reported the materials immediately, to the police who acted swiftly and continue to investigate this matter, our goal is to ensure the safety of our campus community and beyond."

Merrill has checked himself into the psychiatric ward at MidMichigan Medical Center-Gratiot in Alma, while he remains suspended with pay.

According to his university biography page, Merrill specializes in "censorship and the Internet, impact of children on advertising in society, integration of the Internet into instruction to enhance teaching and learning, and using technology to enhance teaching and learning."

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