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No charges over Vt. Police Academy investigation

RUTLAND/PITTSFORD - Vermont Attorney General William H. Sorrell announced July 14 that his office has completed its review of a special investigation conducted by the Vermont State Police (VSP) into activities at the Vermont Police Academy (VPA) in Pittsford to determine if any criminal misconduct occurred.

Suspicion of possible misconduct came to light in late 2009, when certain inappropriate e-mails were discovered on four employees' work computers. After this discovery, Rutland County Sheriff Stephen Benard, the chairman of the Vermont Criminal Justice Training Council, ordered the seizure and examination of the four state-owned computers used by the employees.

A preliminary forensic examination of the four computers was conducted resulting in the discovery of files that appeared to contain child pornography on one of the computers, that used by David McMullen, who was the VPA Training Coordinator for the Department of Homeland Security. None of the other computers seized from the VPA contained any suspected child pornography.

On Jan. 11, VSP was notified of a possible criminal violation based on the discovery of suspected child pornography on McMullen's work computer, and State Police detectives began their own investigation. McMullen's work computer was sent to the Vermont Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC), for a complete forensic analysis.

The analysis of McMullen's work computer revealed several "link files" whose titles were indicative of child pornography. Link files do not contain the actual original file's content, but are rather a pointer to where the original file content was stored when it was reviewed. It appeared that the contents of these files came from some external drive attached to the computer, and were created in 2009. Based on this information, a search warrant was obtained for the seizure and examination of computers and other peripherals located in McMullen's home.

VSP executed the search warrant at McMullen's home in his presence on Jan. 15 and seized several computers and other electronic devices. On Jan. 16 McMullen was found dead on the grounds of the VPA, the result of an apparent suicide. A resulting death investigation concluded that McMullen died as the result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Subsequent forensic analysis of McMullen's home computers revealed the presence of child pornography on two of his personal computers.

Given that no evidence of child pornography was found on any of the other three work computers that were seized from the VPA at the outset of the investigation, and the absence of any evidence of criminal wrongdoing on the part of any individual besides David McMullen, who is now deceased, the Attorney General's Office has concluded that there are no grounds for any criminal prosecution based on this review.

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