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U professor denies child porn charge

By KSL.com | Posted - Nov 28th, 2011 @ 6:38pm


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SALT LAKE CITY -- A University of Utah professor has pleaded not guilty to viewing child pornography on his laptop during a flight from Salt Lake City to Boston.

Grant Smith, of Cottonwood Heights, was ordered held on $75,000 bail Monday and told to have no unsupervised contact with children.

Smith, 47, is a professor of materials science and engineering at the University of Utah.

Authorities say Smith was sitting in first class of a Delta Air Lines flight on his way to a conference Saturday afternoon when the passenger sitting behind Smith saw him watching a video of child pornography.

Grant Smith (left) appeared in a Boston court Monday morning and pleaded not guilty to viewing child pornography.

The passenger from Orem sat next to Smith. He asked his name not be used, but told KSL News Smith was acting strange and trying to block the view of his computer screen by scooting as close to the window as he could.

"If I'd seen anything inappropriate, especially if it was child pornography, we would've probably had to land early because I would have laid the guy out," the Orem man said.

The passenger sitting behind Smith then used a cell phone to take a photograph of him as proof.

The other passenger then alerted the flight crew and emailed a family member so that they could contact police.

When the plane landed at Boston Logan International Airport, the Orem man said "a representative from Delta came on board and came to our row, and said, 'You two are free to leave, or de-plane.' We got off the plane, and there was five Boston police officers there."

Smith, a father of two, was arrested. According to NewsChannel 5, he then allowed police to search his computer and mobile phone, where they allegedly found more images of young girls.

In a statement, the university says Smith has been placed on administrative leave pending a criminal investigation.


One hopes there is a special place in Hell for the evil people who make, trade and possess child pornography. Until they get there, we are committed to putting them in jail.

–Massachusetts State Police


The statement reads in part: "Professor Smith deserves a full and fair investigation into this issue. The University of Utah however, has no tolerance for the viewing or possessing of child pornography by any of its employees, regardless of where it occurs."

The statement goes on to say if the allegations against Smith are discovered to be true, the university will "immediately seek Professor Smith's dismissal."

Massachusetts State Police also issued a statement regarding the case. It said: "One hopes there is a special place in Hell for the evil people who make, trade and possess child pornography. Until they get there, we are committed to putting them in jail."

Smith has been charged with possession of child pornography and was held on $15,000 bail over the weekend. That bail has now been upped to $75,000 to keep him in jail until his next hearing, scheduled for Dec. 22.

His lawyer says he has no criminal record.

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Written with contributions from the KSL News team and The Associated Press.

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