Nacogdoches grand jury indicts SFA professor on 14 possession of - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Nacogdoches grand jury indicts SFA professor on 14 possession of child porn charges

Dr. Michael Stroup (Source: Nacogdoches County Jail) Dr. Michael Stroup (Source: Nacogdoches County Jail)
NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) -

A Nacogdoches County grand jury has indicted a Stephen F. Austin State University economics professor on 14 counts of third-degree felony possession of child pornography.

When the Nacogdoches County grand jury met earlier this month, Dr. Michael Dean Stroup, 54, of Nacogdoches, was among the 13 people they indicted on felony charges.

"We got a call that a staff member from the university saw an inappropriate picture," SFA Chief of Police March Cassich said in September of 2015. "An investigation led to the discovery of several pictures on a common server that traced back to one computer."

SFA's Department of Public Safety worked with other law enforcement agencies to determine the origin and nature of the content and found that images of child pornography had been downloaded and disseminated from an SFA computer. There is no evidence that the illegal images involved SFA students in any way.

The arrest affidavit stated that the SFA Police Department started investigating the case after a female staff member who works in the university's Nelson Rusche College of Business found inappropriate photos on a shared department file server when she accessed the drive to add information to the Scholarship Folder. When she clicked the file preview, she found what she felt was an inappropriate photo of a "younger female" with no clothes on, the affidavit stated.

At that point, the staff member contacted the interim dean and was told to contact the College of Business IT person. The IT person then removed the file from the shared drive and put it on an external flash drive, the affidavit stated. The same file was found in another folder on the shared drive, the affidavit stated.

After the IT person contacted a colleague in SFA's Information Technology Services Department, they set about trying to track down the creator of the files. They determined that the owner of the files was "stroupmicha," the affidavit stated. Then the College of Business IT person contacted Stroup and asked if he could run an anti-virus scan "under the pretense of reported network traffic coming from his computer that was excessive or suspicious," the affidavit stated.

A search of Stroup's "C: Drive" allegedly turned up one of the two files. Later, a forensic computer examiner for the Lufkin Police Department searched the computer from Stroup's office and found many more inappropriate images, the affidavit stated.

Later, SFAPD investigators and a Texas Ranger brought in a sexual assault nursing examiner who is also a reserve deputy for the Angelina County Sheriff's Office to review the suspected child porn images. The SANE nurse 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, the affidavit stated.

Several affidavits for search warrants reveal investigators observed Stroup used numerous search terms, including "tween nude girls" and "tween girls off their bikinis."

According to a press release, there is no indication that the illegal images involved SFA students in any way.

“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,” the press release stated. “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.”

The press release stated that SFA's administration typically try to protect employees' privacy by not commenting on personnel issues. However, due to the nature of the charges, the university's administration made a decision to issue a statement about the case, the press release stated.

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

SFA's online faculty directory still has a listing for Stroup. Dr. Shirley Luna, a spokeswoman for SFA, said Stroup remains off campus.

"The university is investigating consistent with its policies and procedures," Luna said.

The Nacogdoches County grand jury also indicted a 64-year-old pharmacist who is accused of setting up a paid sexual encounter with a 14-year-old girl who had been reported as a runaway in 2014 and then offering to $2,000 to the girl’s mother if the victim told police the incident didn’t happen.

Stanley Warren Turner, 64, of Nacogdoches, was indicted on three felony charges - solicitation of a prostitute under the age of 18, trafficking of persons, and sexual assault of a child.

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