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Former Emory professor sentenced to six years in prison for downloading child pornography

Crime and public safety Metro ATL slideshow

Former Emory professor sentenced to six years in prison for downloading child pornography

A booking photo of Kevin Sullivan.

A booking photo of Kevin Sullivan.

A former Emory University professor was sentenced to six years and six months in prison for downloading child pornography over the university’s wifi network.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced on March 1 that Kevin Sullivan, 61, will also pay a $15,000 fine and will spend seven years on supervised release once he leaves prison.

Sullivan pleaded guilty on Dec. 1.

“Sullivan downloaded thousands of files depicting the sexual abuse of children,” U. S. Attorney John Horn said in a press release. “He attempted to cover his tracks by using his personal computer on the Internet system at Emory to download the images. As predators continue to try to develop new methods to feed and download child pornography, we will continue to find them and prosecute them.”

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Sullivan was a professor in Emory University’s Epidemiology department at the Rollins School of Public Health.

According to a copy of the complaint filed in U.S. District Court, an agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation received a tip from an agent with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Cyber Crimes Center. The investigator with the Cyber Crimes Center told the GBI agent that a special investigation, dubbed Operation Amateur Lover, investigated a “web-board picture gallery site” that contained suspected images of child exploitation. The site contained a members-only area where users could upload content.

Investigators identified more than 800 internet protocol (IP) addresses from visitors within the U.S. who had downloaded five or more child abuse images. The server for the website was located in Zurich, Switzerland. It was seized by Swiss law enforcement in 2014.

Federal investigators traced one of the IP addresses to the internet service used by Emory University. The complaint says that university officials helped track down the computer suspected of downloading the images, which had logged on to the university’s wireless guest network. Emory technicians said the computer connected to the network using bogus email addresses. The computer was traced back to an office in the Rollins School of Public Health and ultimately linked to Sullivan, the complaint alleges.

Investigators executed a warrant to search Sullivan’s office, according to the complaint. When investigators knocked on his door, Sullivan exited and declined to speak to the GBI agent, the complaint says. The investigators found a laptop computer with an external hard drive with more than 8,000 files containing child pornography.

DeKalb County Detectives went to Sullivan’s DeKalb County residence, where they discovered Sullivan had deleted images of child pornography from his home computer, the complaint says.

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