Former CMU professor William Merrill to be arraigned in federal court on child pornography charges

Former Central Michigan University professor William Merrill will be arraigned in federal court Tuesday on child pornography charges.

[caption id="attachment_129070" align="alignright" width="199"] William Lord Merrill[/caption]Merrill, 58, was scheduled for a preliminary hearing in Isabella County Trial Court Tuesday morning on a four-count felony relating to child porn, but federal prosecutors served a warrant for his arrest, CMU Police Chief Bill Yeagley said. Merrill is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Flint.

Yeagley said the CMU Police Department reached out to the FBI because of its 'expertise' in processing forensic evidence. Federal authorities plan to assess the evidence and work with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to identify the children involved in the explicit images and videos found in Merrill's possession.

Merrill, a Mount Pleasant native and professor of teaching education and professional development, was suspended by university officials on Nov. 5 after an IT worker discovered child pornography on his office computer. He later admitted to police to downloading three sexually explicit videos, but 30 CDs, one of which included more than 10,000 files of sexually abusive activity involving children, were found following a search warrant of his home and campus office.

"It made sense to get them (FBI) involved ... not only for the sentencing power, but in their ability to ID these other individuals involved," Yeagley said.

Merrill, who had been employed by the university since 1987 and tenured since 1993, resigned Nov. 12. Students and staff reacted to the incident last week, calling Merrill "enthusiastic" about his teaching and "always willing to help."

In a statement last week, Dale-Elizabeth Pehrsson, dean of the College of Education and Human Services, praised the professionalism of the the college and administration in how the situation was handled.

Merrill was due to make $99,442 for the 2012-13 academic year, and more than $138,000 including benefits, according to university records.

Keep checking for more on this developing story.


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