Former Central Michigan University Professor William Lord Merrill was arraigned in federal court in Bay City Thursday on child pornography charges.
Merrill, 58, was arrested for one count of possession of child pornography and indicted by grand jury on two counts of receipt of child pornography on Dec. 19.
Magistrate Judge Charles E. Binder upheld Merrill’s $50,000 bond, originally posted on Nov. 21 allowing him to be released from jail, despite the U.S. Attorney’s office’s request to have it revoked.
The U.S. Attorney’s office asked Binder to order an immediate detention hearing at Merrill’s arraignment in federal court based on new charges being filed, which would revoke Merrill’s bond.
A bond review hearing was ordered to be scheduled, but no date has been set.
“There will be a hearing for the prosecutor, as well as the defense, to present an argument in regard to what bond should be,” said CMU Police Chief Bill Yeagley, whose department has stepped aside from handling the case. “After both parties present their arguments, the magistrate will decide what’s appropriate.”
Merrill was indicted in federal court after state charges were dismissed.
“Typically, in these types of cases, after the bond hearing, there is a pre-trial set, and if there’s going to be any type of plea agreement, the prosecutor and defense would have those conversations,” Yeagley said. “If not, a trial date is actually set with a trial. Evidence is then presented, and a magistrate judge or jury will render a decision.”
Merrill’s attorney, Dan O’Neil, did not return calls as of Sunday.
An investigation of Merrill began on Oct. 30 when CMU’s Information Technology staff noticed a large amount of data being transmitted from his computer.
Merrill, a tenured staff member of CMU’s College of Education and Human Services, resigned Nov. 12 upon being contacted about three child pornography videos found on his office computer.
On Nov. 8, Merrill was charged with a four-count felony that included 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, according to court records.
Police said they found more than 5,400 images and at least 26 movies depicting children being sexually exploited on Merrill’s computer, as previously reported by CM Life.