Look What Suspended CMU Professor Is Accused Of Having on His Computer
November 10th, 2012, 11:43 AM
Central Michigan University information technology staffers noticed something odd on a professor's computer account: a massive spike in Internet traffic.
Initially, they thought a hacker or virus had compromised Bill Merrill's computer and was relaying advertising spam, according to The Morning Sun, the off-campus daily in Mt. Pleasant. As a precaution, Merrills web access was blocked. When the 58-year-old education professor called to see why he couldn't get online, an IT technician looked at his office terminal.
Instead of finding a virus, an evidence affidavit says, the tech found sexual videos of children. CMU Police were notified and obtained search warrants for his office and home.
Merrill appeared in local court this week to be charged with four felonies related to child pornography and with having an illegal switchblade knife. He's suspended with pay and banned from campus.
Court documents say he voluntarily checked into into the psychiatric ward at MidMichigan Medical Center, according to Central Michigan Life, the student newspaper.
Investigators say they found more than 10,000 files, mostly child pornography. Police also seized CDs with 230 files of still photographs children with adults and other children.
Merrill's research areas include online censorship, according to his university biography page. He joined the faculty in 1987, has a doctorate and gained tenure in 1993.
Knight said Merrill, whose office is three floors above a Child Development and Learning Laboratory, isn't believed to have had contact with children in that first-floor area, Michigan Central Life reports.
Merrill taught two undergraduate classes and two graduate-level ones, all now handled by a substitute professor, add student reporters Eric Dresden and Aaron McMann.
More than two dozen reactions are posted at the student paper and on its Facebook page.
"I hope he receives the help he needs," says Kaleena Polega Hampton, a 2005 graduate from Bad Axe. "I am horrified to think that his 25 years of service to thousands of Central students (myself included) was tainted by an ulterior motive that was not educational in nature. I'm only relieved by the fact that he was not a part of the K-12 system and did not have a greater opportunity to access and inflict harm upon minors."
Another comment comes from Chad Hill, a former student athlete: "I honestly feel bad for what his family is about to endure, for a lifetime."