Escalating problem of child pornography

042214childpornChild pornography is a growing problem nationally, in Virginia, and in Floyd County.

In Charlottesville Monday, a former assistant dean at the University of Virginia pleaded guilty in federal court to possessing, receiving and distributing child pornography.

Federal officers said Michael G. Morris, 50, had more than 4,000 sexually explicit files of children stored on three computers and four hard drives found in his home in November of last year.

Morris entered guilty pleas Monday to one count of possessing child pornography and two counts of receiving and distributing files through a peer-to-peer web site.

He resigned as associate dean of graduate programs and professor at UVa in January.  Morris faces 20 years in a federal prison.

In Floyd County, the former head of the local Farm Credit office and his Iraq war veteran son face hearings in Circuit Court on multiple charges of child pornography in a case handled by the Virginia State Police and a special prosecutor.

Greg Claubaugh faces 17 charges of possession of child porn, three charges of reproduction of such images and a a charge of “conspiracy to commit a felony” and his son Mark was indicted on on five counts.

Their cases go before the judge in Circuit Court on May 6.

An employee of the county electoral board lost his job last year after State Police found child pornography images on the county-owned computer he used in the board’s office in the courthouse in Floyd.  That case is listed as “still under investigation” and has not been presented to a grand jury.  Because he has not been charged, his name will not be published here or in the Floyd Press, although WSLS, Channel 10, in Roanoke did broadcast his name in a newscast.

The images were discovered as part of a new investigative unit of the Floyd County Sheriff’s Department and turned over to the State Police for investigation.

Those who engage in child pornography are considered pedophiles under the law and are often people who don’t fit the usual stereotype of those who engage in other forms of pornography, writes Dr. Ryan C. Hall and Dr. Richard C.W. Hall in Psychiatry Online.

“A pedophile is no longer seen seen as the isolated ‘dirty old man’ in a raincoat preying on unsuspected children,” they wrote in 2009, adding that those exposed include “our friends, neighbors, and, with the recent allegations from the House of Representatives that a U.S. Congressman engaged in ‘cybersex’ and possibly physical sex with underage congressional pages, even political representatives.”

Virginia defines possession of child pornography as a “sexual offense” and production or distribution of such porn as “a violent sexual offense.”

Upon conviction, sexual offenders are usually required to register, for life, with the state’s Sexual Offender Database.

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