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Child porn investigation prompts raid at Gonzaga

Federal agents seized dozens of DVDs and other videos from a Gonzaga University faculty office and apartment as part of an ongoing child pornography investigation, newly unsealed documents show.

The investigation, headed by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and local office of the FBI, is looking into dozens of online purchases and movie downloads made by someone using the credit card and mailing address of Rev. Gary Uhlenkott, a music professor who was placed on administrative leave by the university following last month’s raid. No charges have been filed, but authorities say the investigation is continuing.

In a statement Friday, the university said it is watching for the outcome of the investigation.

“The university is deeply saddened to read the contents of the search warrant,” said Gonzaga’s Executive Vice President Earl “Marty” Martin, referring to the U.S. District Court documents unsealed this week. “The safety and security of our campus is our utmost concern. We are also concerned about Father Uhlenkott’s well being and we are awaiting the conclusion of this federal investigation.”

Under federal statutes, those convicted of possessing child pornography must serve a mandatory minimum five-year prison term and register as a sex offender for life.

According to court records, someone using Uhlenkott’s credit card spent more $1,654 on 29 purchases between Dec. 26, 2008, and Jan. 15, 2011, from a Toronto film company that was raided in 2010 under a joint investigation by U.S. and Canadian law enforcement agencies.

“The Toronto Company, as well as its two operating principals, were subsequently charged and are being prosecuted in Canada for child exploitation offenses, including the production and distribution of child pornography,” U.S. postal inspector W.E.S Beaty wrote.

When that company was raided, investigators discovered films depicting child pornography were being shipped to customers around the world, including several hundred customers in the United States.

Among those records, investigators found the purchases by someone using the name Gary Uhlenkott.

All the purchases were either mailed to 502 E. Boone Ave., which is the general Spokane mailing address for Gonzaga University, or a link for digital download of the product was sent to Uhlenkott’s university-issued email address.

Among the dozens of movie titles purchased with the credit card were “Boy Fights XXVIII: Bucharest Holiday,” “Boys of Europa” and “God or Goat.”

Based on that information, U.S. Magistrate Judge Cynthia Imbrogno on April 15 gave agents permission to search Uhlenkott’s campus apartment and his university office.

Agents conducted the searches April 16, and records indicate that they seized 47 CDs or DVDs from Uhlenkott’s office. In the search of his apartment, agents seized several computer hard drives, a cellphone, two DVDs, an iPad and other electronic devices.

Martin, the university official, would not say where Uhlenkott is now living, “but … he no longer is in residence at the location named in the search warrant.”

In that court record, which contains 111 pages and was unsealed this week, Beaty notes that it typically takes investigators a long time to forensically examine the evidence seized.

“Analyzing the contents of a computer or other electronic storage device, even without significant technical difficulties, can be very challenging,” Beaty wrote, “and a variety of search and analytical methods must be used.”

Efforts to reach Uhlenkott and his attorney were not successful Friday.



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