Texas Professor Busted on Alleged Child Porn Charges

Deputies arrested an East Texas economics professor on alleged child pornography possession charges after inappropriate images traced back to him on the business college’s computer.

Dr. Michael Dean Stroup, 52, economics professor and interim chair of the Department of Economics and Finance at Stephen F. Austin (SFA) State University in Nacogdoches, was jailed Tuesday on a third-degree felony of possession of child pornography charge; at Wednesday’s arraignment, bail was set at $15,000. KTRE 9 (ABC) reported that Stroup met bail and was released from the Nacogdoches County Jail.

A female staff member stumbled on Stroup’s alleged kiddie porn activities on a shared department file server used by the College of Business while accessing the drive to enter student scholarship info. To her surprise, under-aged nude images of a younger female popped up. A business college IT staffer removed the file and put it on a flash drive, said KTRE 9.

“We got a call that a staff member from the university saw an inappropriate picture,” said SFA Police Chief March Cassich. “An investigation led to the discovery of several pictures on a common server that traced back to one computer.”

Investigators tracked the owner of the files to “stroupmicha,” the arrest affidavit stated; the business college’s IT staffer then asked Stroup to run an anti-virus scan “under the pretense of reported network traffic coming from his computer that was excessive or suspicious.”

SFA’s Department of Public Safety worked with other law enforcement agencies to determine the origin and nature of the content. These downloaded images of child pornography were “disseminated” from a university computer according to the affidavit. There was no evidence that the illegal images involved SFA students.

KTRE 9 noted that a forensic computer examiner for the Lufkin Police Department also searched the computer from Stroup’s office and found many more inappropriate images.

Campus investigators and a Texas Ranger brought in a sexual assault nursing examiner to review the suspected child porn images. The examiner told the investigators that, in her medical opinion, 14 of the images depicted people under the age of 18 “engaged in sexual conduct,” and one of them featured a nude girl under the age of 14. Search warrants also revealed investigators observed Stroup used numerous search terms, including “tween nude girls” and “tween girls off their bikinis.”

The university issued a statement: “In keeping with SFA’s employment policies, Dr. Michael Stroup, faculty member and interim chair of the Department of Economics and Finance, was suspended with pay pending further review. In addition, Stroup has been directed to remain off campus during the suspension period. Classes instructed by Stroup will be taught by other faculty members.”

SFA officials noted that normally the university protects employees’ rights to privacy and does not from comment on personnel issues but because of the nature of these charges, they decided otherwise.

“We are committed to doing the right thing for students on the campus as well as for faculty members,” said Dr. Steve Bullard, interim provost and vice president for academic affairs. “We are adhering to those values in the decisions we make regarding this incident.”

Online jail records do not list an attorney for Stroup, KTVT-11 (CBS) reported.

Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.


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