The popular stereotype of the dirty old man looking at dirty pictures just went out the window in this case. A 47-year-old University of Utah professor, Grant Smith, who is a father of two with no prior criminal record (although the Washington Post reveals that Smith is recently divorced), was arrested at Boston's Logan Airport for allegedly viewing child porn on his computer aboard a Delta flight from Salt Lake City. He has pleaded not guilty at his initial hearing, and continues to be held on $75,000 bail (increased from $15,000); if and when he bonds out, he will have to stay away from anyone under the age of 16, stay off the Internet, and to surrender his passport. His next court hearing is scheduled in Boston on December 27th.
Reporting from the Utah end is KSL Channel 5, the Salt Lake Tribune, and the University of Utah's Daily Utah Chronicle; from the Boston end, WHDH Channel 7 and Boston.com. The Daily Mail has picked up the story internationally. WHDH news video embedded below:
Summary: Grant Smith, a resident of Cottonwood Heights, Utah, was aboard a Delta flight from Salt Lake to Boston, in the first class section, on Saturday November 26th to attend a conference for the Material Research Society. Another passenger sitting behind Smith noticed he was viewing images aboard his computer. A closer look revealed images since reported to be mostly of girls between eight and 10 years old, naked or nearly naked, engaging in simulated sex acts. Some of the pictures were of children as young as six. The passenger then sent a text message to his son with the photo, asking him to contact Massachusetts police, then summoned a flight attendant who then confronted Smith and told him to shut off his laptop. Smith shut off his laptop after attempting to delete the images. Upon arrival in Boston, Smith was met by police who first asked him if they could examine his laptop. When Smith consented, police allegedly discovered the disturbing images of child pornography. Prosecutors also claim that Smith admitted to police that he has traded pictures of teens over the Internet.
Because Grant Smith is a professor at the University of Utah and his laptop was purchased for him through a university grant, the university issued a statement in
which they said that while Professor Smith deserves a full and fair investigation into this issue, the university has no tolerance for the viewing or possessing of child pornography by any of its employees, regardless of where it occurs, and will promptly dismiss him if the allegations prove true. They've placed him on administrative leave for now. According to his faculty profile, Smith is a full professor of Material Science And Engineering and an adjunct professor of Chemical Engineering; he holds two bachelor’s degrees and a doctorate, and has worked at the university for 14 years. According to one Tribune commenter, he earns $170,000 per year. In light of the fact that he has no prior criminal record, one must wonder if Smith's recent divorce triggered the urge to explore child porn.