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First Class, No Class: Utah Professor Denies Viewing Child Porn on Airplane

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HVnews


By HVnews on November 29, 2011


The ritual of flying, while the pinnacle of convenience, has become almost too stressful. There’s the rush to the airport, panicking in traffic. There’s the liquids rule, the shoes rule, the belt rule. There’s the pervasive, invasive cop-and-feel by TSA security guards. There’s the internal thought process of sweating out whether you’ll be able to squeeze your carry-on luggage into the overhead bins. It’s a hassle. And sometimes you just want to board, sit in your first-class seat and cool your jets with some child porn.

Wait. What?

Nobody would be so brazen, so bold as to view sexually explicit images of children on an airplane, would they? For that answer we turn to Grant D. Smith, a 47-year-old professor of material science and engineering at the University of Utah. On Monday he appeared in court and denied the charges that he was looking at child pornography in first class on Saturday’s flight from Salt Lake City to Boston.

Kurt Wade, good on ya. Here’s more on how the arrest unfolded, courtesy of the Boston Herald:

[Kurt] Wade was seated in first class on Delta Flight 270 from Salt Lake City on Saturday when he spotted Smith in the row in front of him viewing disturbing images, according to a police report. The Arizona software company employee alerted a flight attendant, who also saw Smith looking at child porn, said Assistant District Attorney Erik Bennett.

Wade said he took a photo with his cellphone and emailed his son, telling him to call police in Boston. His son relayed questions from police, who asked Wade to point out Smith when the plane landed.

At Logan, troopers asked to see Smith’s laptop, and he consented, saying it had been bought with a research grant through the University of Utah, where he is a professor of engineering, Bennett said.

On it, troopers found dozens of images of children as young as 5 in a state of nudity or engaged in sex acts with men, he said. At least one is crying while performing a sex act.

When asked if there were any illegal images on his computer, Smith, a divorced father of an 8- and a 10-year-old, debated the definition of child pornography and told troopers he had traded pornographic images of “teens” on the Internet, police said.

Smith has been placed on administrative leave from the University of Utah pending the outcome of a December 27th hearing. Bail for Smith has been set at $75,000.

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