A Central Michigan University philosophy professor was arrested for disturbing the peace after he was seen taking photos of young girls at the Mecosta County Agricultural Free Fair in July.
John Meixner, 63, was seen taking the pictures on July 13 and was arrested on Aug. 7, Mecosta County Sheriff Todd Purcell said.
According to court documents shared with Central Michigan Life, the pictures he took appeared to be “centered mostly on the buttocks and thigh area” of young girls and adult women. Photos recovered by police did not include any faces, and the subjects were fully clothed.
“A warrant was issued, and he was arrested on (Aug.) 7,” Purcell said. “We did take (his camera) into evidence that evening and did a forensic test on it.”
Meixner, a 1990 recipient of the CMU Excellence in Teaching award, will appear in Mecosta County’s 77th District Court on Sept. 4 for a pretrial conference on the charge of disturbing the peace.
Purcell could not comment on why Meixner was taking the pictures, but reiterated what some of the parents had seen that made them call the police.
“They saw a gentleman taking photos of young children, particularly girls, while they were on rides and while they were walking away from him,” Purcell said.
Chief Assistant Prosecutor Brian Thiede was hesitant to release any of the details on the case but did say Meixner was released and made bond.
“The most I can (say) at this point is that he was charged for disturbing the peace,” Thiede said.
According to the incident report, Sgt. Michael Mohr was called down to the fair with another on-duty officer to respond to reports of a suspicious individual at the fair.
Mohr said he first noticed Meixner near the Tilt-A-Whirl with a camera and watched him for close to 30 seconds.
In the report, Mohr made a note that during that time when people continued to walk by him, “the subject only picked up his camera and took pictures when it was a very young child that walked by.”
When Mohr and another officer spoke with Meixner, they asked to have a look at the camera to resolve the matter.
“The subject advised that he was not comfortable showing us the pictures on the camera and would not be doing so,” Mohr said in the report. “He advised he did not know what pictures would be on the camera.”
Mohr went on to recommend that Meixner did not tamper or destroy any of the pictures on the camera and that they would obtain a search warrant to see what pictures had been taken.
Mohr reported that Meixner began “messing around with the camera,” causing officers to ask him to set it down.
The Nikon digital camera was later analyzed by forensic investigator Craig Brockette, who said the camera had been formatted, but images were still recovered.
CMU Director of Public Relations Steve Smith said in a statement the university has not been in contact with Mecosta County officials as of yet, but it has been made aware of the arrest through news reports.
“At this point, we are monitoring the situation as closely as possible while also allowing the legal system to proceed,” Smith said. “Maintaining a safe and nurturing learning environment is of utmost concern to us.”
In addition to teaching philosophy, Meixner is also the director of the CMU law center, a college bowl moderator and adviser to the Mortar Board and Phi Alpha Delta.
Check back with cm-life.com for more as this story develops.