ST. LOUIS • A former Washington University dean was sentenced to 54 months in federal prison Thursday for viewing child porn online.
Justin X. Carroll, 67, of the 500 block of North and South Road in University City, went by the name “MOperv” online. He pleaded guilty in July to a felony charge of access with intent to view child pornography and admitted viewing 15 child porn videos and more than 600 images of children engaged in sex acts. As part of the plea, both prosecutors and Carroll’s lawyer agreed to a sentence of 51 to 63 months in prison.
Carroll was the university’s dean of students and interim athletic director at the time, and viewed the material in his office and at home, court records show.
In those court documents, investigators say Carroll was among a group of people sharing child pornography via online video conferencing software between November 2015 and December 2016.
Carroll was an active participant in the program’s chat room, praising a video on Nov. 20, 2015, and the user “luzifer” who had shared it, a search warrant filed last year claims. He reached out to other participants several times. On Dec. 7, 2015, he lamented the fact that he had no videos to share and on Dec. 28, 2015, he wrote “no limits here.”
On Feb. 16, 2016, Carroll and others using the program watched a video that included the apparent sexual assault of a child that authorities believe to be under the age of 1, according to court records. The child doesn’t move, and other users discuss the possibility it is a “snuff” film showing a dead child.
Asked about the video, Assistant U.S. Attorney Carrie Costantin said that the case was still under investigation, but that the child had not been located.
Carroll apologized in court Thursday, saying he “failed to accept how sick I was.” He said that he was not a pedophile and had never been accused of inappropriate behavior. He also said that he had been sexually abused on multiple occasions as a youth.
In a letter to U.S. District Judge Rodney Sippel, he said that he did not download or distribute child porn, but did view it. He cited his sexual abuse, medical issues, anxiety and depression and wrote, “I was spiraling down and seeking solace in the worst possible places and with the worst possible people.”
Carroll’s lawyer, Paul D’Agrosa, said a 51-month sentence was appropriate, mentioning Carroll’s lack of criminal history and similar sentences in other cases.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Livergood asked for five years in prison, saying that those watching the videos made comments expressing their enjoyment of what was going on. Livergood said that “the children in those images were victimized as well.” He also said Carroll was in an unique opportunity to take care of his medical and psychological issues by seeking help from the university community and the professionals who wrote letters of support to Sippel.
D’Agrosa submitted more than 50 pages of letters in support for Carroll, from his family, friends, and current and former university officials, colleagues and students, including Chancellor Emeritus William H. Danforth and current Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton, who used university letterhead.
None excused his behavior. They praised his work for the university and its students. One former student wrote, “Justin worked to make his home an extension of Washington University and Washington University feel like home for many students and faculty members.”
Sippel said in court that Carroll’s sentence was roughly equal to the average sentence he’s handed out in child porn cases. “Who we don’t hear from are the victims,” he said, adding that nothing was said about “the burden those children will carry with them.”
University officials said earlier this year that they were notified Dec. 20 about the investigation. Carroll was put on leave and banned from campus on Jan. 5, after a 36-year career.
He formally retired from the university Feb. 1.
Authorities said the investigation did not find any wrongdoing involving Carroll’s university work or students. School officials cooperated with the investigation.
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