A UND department chairman has been indicted in federal court on charges that he allegedly distributed and collected child pornography since April.

A grand jury indicted Robert William Beattie, 55, of Grand Forks, with one count of distributing child porn and two counts of possession of child porn Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Grand Forks, according to the federal indictment.

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Beattie made his first appearance Friday in the Grand Forks federal courthouse on the charges, where he pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The investigation into Beattie, who chairs the Family and Community Medicine Department at UND, sprang from a tip Grand Forks police received from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in June about IP addresses associated with Beattie.

Grand Forks police carried out a search warrant at Beattie's home and office earlier this month, where they found a flash drive allegedly containing more than 800 sexually explicit images and videos of children ranging in age from 1 to 14 years old, according to court records.

Child porn was also found on one of Beattie's computer hard drives, according to the federal indictment.

Officers say Beattie told them the images were collected from online chat rooms, court records say.

UND placed Beattie on paid administrative leave shortly after he was arrested Aug. 6, and the North Dakota Board of Medical Examiners suspended Beattie's medical license several days later.

Beattie was initially charged at the state level with 10 counts of possession of child pornography, but prosecutors made a motion Thursday to dismiss the charges in light of the federal indictment.

Peter Welte, Beattie's private attorney, said the stakes are higher for Beattie at the federal level, where distribution of child pornography carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years and a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Welte said cases involving child pornography at the state level typically will result in a one-year imprisonment term for the defendant.

"The federal government takes the case once they decide they want to carry the bigger hammer to punish the defendant," Welte said.

Beattie is scheduled to go to trial at 10 a.m. Oct. 27 on the federal charges, though the date is subject to change.