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Police search home of child porn suspect, seize property

By Pat Reavy | Posted - Nov. 29, 2011 at 8:44 p.m.


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COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — Law enforcers say they have seized a "significant amount" of property from the home of a University of Utah professor accused of viewing child pornography while on a flight from Salt Lake to Boston.

Grant D. Smith, 47, remained in official custody Tuesday on $75,000 bail. During an appearance in a Boston District Court Monday, Smith pleaded not guilty to viewing child pornography.

Smith was arrested Saturday after at least two passengers on a Delta flight from Salt Lake City to Boston's Logan International Airport said he had been viewing child pornography on his laptop computer while sitting in first class. The passengers alerted flight attendants who in turn contacted police who were waiting for Smith when the plane landed.


We have been involved in the investigation into Professor Smith since before the plane landed in Massachusetts.

–Ken Wallentine, Utah Attorney General's Office


Immediately, both the Massachusetts and Utah Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force groups were notified.

"We have been involved in the investigation into Professor Smith since before the plane landed in Massachusetts," said Ken Wallentine, chief of law enforcement with the Utah Attorney General's Office.

Monday night, Utah's ICAC team served a search warrant on Smith's Cottonwood Heights home. Although Wallentine could not comment Tuesday about what was seized, he confirmed a large number of items were taken from the house.

"There certainly is the possibility of additional criminal charges," Wallentine said.

According to a press release from the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office in Massachusetts, state troopers who arrested Smith at the Boston airport found multiple images of young girls on Smith's computer, some naked and engaged in sexual acts with adult men. The children were believed to be between the ages of 5 and 14.

"These weren't photos of a child in the bath that a parent might keep," said Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley. "These were explicitly sexual and extremely disturbing."

Investigators in Utah were trying to determine Tuesday whether any of the images were made in Utah and whether there are any victims living in the Beehive State.


These weren't photos of a child in the bath that a parent might keep. These were explicitly sexual and extremely disturbing.

–Daniel F. Conley, Suffolk County DA


"We've got good science that 8 out of 10 child porn suspects have had contact with an actual live child — not teens — young children. We have had a philosophy for several years to always look for victims," Wallentine said.

Investigators in Boston say Smith told them the MacBook Pro he had on the airplane was purchased through a research grant from his employer, the University of Utah. Wallentine said university officials had been cooperative with their investigation.

Wallentine also had praise for the airline passengers who witnessed the alleged crime and took action rather than turning a blind eye. Because Smith is accused of brazenly viewing child pornography in such a public place, Wallentine said: "That's someone law enforcement desperately needed to stop."

Whether Smith will ultimately be prosecuted in Massachusetts or Utah was yet to be decided, Wallentine said. He noted that the ICAC teams in both states have previously worked with each other.

Smith, who was recently divorced, is a professor of materials science and engineering at the U. He was placed on administrative leave, and the school says it will permanently dismiss him if the allegations are true.

Smith's iPhone was also seized in Boston. If he should make bail, a judge ordered he have no unsupervised contact with children under 16, only use the Internet for his professional job, and allow police to search his computers at any time.

Smith's next scheduled court date is Dec. 27.

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Written by Pat Reavy with contributions from Shara Park.

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