Former CMU professor William Merrill appears in federal court - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Former CMU professor William Merrill appears in federal court

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(11/20/12) - The FBI says more than 5,000 images and two dozen videos of child pornography were found on a former CMU professor's computer.

Fifty-eight-year old William Merrill, already charged in Isabella County, has now been indicted on federal charges.

Tuesday morning, he walked into court in handcuffs and told the judge he understands the charges against him.

Central Michigan University campus police were the first agency involved in the case, but it's now in the hands of the FBI.

"Once we saw the magnitude of the case, it became pretty clear that the FBI has some specialties that we did not," said CMU chief of police Bill Yeagley.

That's when CMU police asked for the federal government's help in prosecuting Merrill, a former Central Michigan University professor.

"We conducted interviews with the suspect and recorded our interviews," Yeagley said.

In addition to the Isabella County charges filed against Merrill, he's now been indicted in federal court. According to court records, when Merrill's Mount Pleasant home was searched, investigators discovered nearly 5,500 of images and more than two dozen videos of child pornography.

"We are well beyond those numbers," Yeagley said.

The document also reveals Merrill told authorities he was sexually assaulted as a child and said he wanted to know if child pornography was as repulsive as he had read about. Merrill admitted he downloaded videos, but denied possessing any other child pornography.

Chief Yeagley says the full backing of the federal government will help investigators identify more possible victims.

"Any time we can identify another victim in this nasty business out there and we want to do that and reach out to help those victims," he said.

In late October, CMU's IT staff noticed high Internet usage on the school's network and traced the activity to Merrill's school-issued computer.

While on staff at the university, Merrill's research focused on Internet censorship and the use of children in advertising.

He will be in court Wednesday to determine whether he will be released on bond or remain in custody.

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