Sections

Weather Forecast

Close

Ex-UND prof sentenced to 16 years for child porn

Eric Hewitt Basile

FARGO -- A former UND aviation professor was sentenced in U.S. District Court Tuesday to spend more than 16 years in prison after pleading guilty to federal child pornography charges.

Eric Hewitt Basile, 38, was sentenced to 198 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson. He pleaded guilty to one count of receipt and distribution of materials containing child pornogrphy and three counts of possession of materials containing child pornography.

Basile was an associate professor in the UND John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences from 2014 to his arrest one year ago.

He was arrested Sept. 8, 2016, after UND administrators asked to search his work computer on a tip he may have been using it to facilitate inappropriate relationships with students, according to court documents filed in Grand Forks last year.

A North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation agent conducted a forensic examination of the computer. That examination revealed child pornography, which led to a Grand Forks district judge signing a search warrant, according to court documents.

Detectives from the Grand Forks Narcotics Task Force, the UND Police Department, BCI and Homeland Security executed a warrant on Basile's residence on Level Plains Circle in Grand Forks and seized multiple digital devices.

In an interview with detectives, Basile admitted to having child porn images and videos. He said he had collected about 100 images and videos from a website and stored them in a Dropbox account, according to court documents.

Detectives said they were able to uncover eight images on Basile's computer. These images depict male and female children between 1 and 3 years old being sexually assaulted by adult males, according to the affidavit.

The case was transferred to federal court in November. He signed a plea agreement in March.

Basile will be on supervised probation for 15 years following his release. He is also required to pay $20,800 in assessment fees and restitution. Basile will be placed in a prison near Chicago so he can be near his family.

Other UND cases

UND has dealt with several child pornography cases in recent years.

Last July, former UND chairman of Family and Community Medicine Robert William Beattie was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison for child pornography possession.

In February, former UND Police officer Paul Bradley Meagher was sentenced to 10 years in prison for possessing and receiving child pornography.

UND aviation student Connor Brennan, 20, was charged with five counts of child porn possession in Grand Forks in July. His next court date is scheduled for Oct. 9. His case has not been picked up in federal court at this time.

randomness