St. Joseph man charged in child porn case

St. Joseph man charged in child porn case

URBANA — A former Monticello schools employee from St. Joseph has been indicted by a federal grand jury on child pornography charges.

At a hearing Thursday morning at the federal courthouse in Urbana, U.S. District Court Judge Harold Baker ordered that William M. Bell, 39, should remain locked up until his trial, tentatively scheduled for March 5 before U.S. District Judge Sue Myerscough in Springfield.

A release from the U.S. Attorney's office said Bell worked as an information technology employee for Community Unit School District 25. Schools Superintendent Vic Zimmerman said Bell resigned Feb. 4.

Bell was arrested Feb. 8 after being indicted by a grand jury three days earlier.

The indictment alleges that in July and August 2018, Bell used a home computer or device to send visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct, and in November 2018, that Bell possessed images of child pornography.

If convicted of transportation of child pornography, Bell faces five to 20 years in prison. Conviction of possession of child pornography carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison. He faces a potential fine of of up to $250,000 on each of those charges.

Zimmerman said Bell had been placed on administrative leave by the school district Nov. 30, when school officials were made aware of the investigation.

"We have cooperated fully with the FBI and Champaign County Sheriff's Department, who did investigate school computers and networks and found no issues related to Bell's employment with the district or conducting illegal activity on school computers or involving any district students," Zimmerman said.

"The safety of our students is of utmost importance and we will continue to work to ensure that our schools are a safe learning environment for all children," he added.

Bell is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Elly M. Peirson.

The allegations were jointly investigated by the FBI, the Champaign County Sheriff's office, and the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force of the Illinois Attorney General's Office.

Sections (2):News, Local
-