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Wednesday, September 18, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Caller brags of watching child porn

When an obscene caller told numerous Whitworth College students that he was watching child pornography, authorities took him at his word.

College officials hadn’t been able to trace the calls, which came from blocked numbers, but Spokane County sheriff’s Detective Tim Hines had better luck.

With court-ordered access to telephone records, Hines matched four of the blocked-number calls to a home on West Point Road in Spokane and seized computers, CDs, floppy disks, VHS tapes and other items Wednesday.

Court documents indicate a “granddaughter’s bedroom” was one of the rooms searched.

Court documents don’t say what was stored on the various media that were seized, but Hines was looking for illegal child pornography among other evidence.

In his application for a search warrant, Hines identified a 67-year-old man as the resident and the telephone subscriber whose number was associated with four of the obscene calls. Jail records indicate he was not arrested.

“He, to our knowledge, is not and never has been an employee or a student at the college,” Whitworth spokesman Greg Orwig said.

Hines was not immediately available for comment Friday.

Orwig said about 20 students, all young women, have received sexually harassing calls or voicemails this month. Based on the voice and content of the messages, officials believe all the calls came from the same man.

The calls began Sept. 8 and continued through Wednesday morning. There has been no call since detectives searched the house on West Point Drive Wednesday afternoon, Orwig said.

Hines’ affidavit says the caller made lewd suggestions while describing the child pornography he said he was watching.

The detective noted that the Whitworth College computer network has a directory that includes students’ photographs, names, phone numbers and campus addresses. But Orwig said the directory appears only in a private, password-protected portion of the campus network.

He said the college’s public Web site lists only office telephone numbers, and college officials are unaware of any computer network security breach.

Orwig said officials don’t know how the harassing caller obtained students’ phone numbers, but “if we can find that out, we will be closing any loopholes.”

Students’ phone numbers are not published anywhere except in the password-protected online directory, Orwig said.

He said there is no evidence that the caller went to the Whitworth campus, but security has been tightened.

“Once we became aware of the calls, we took extra steps to secure our residence halls,” Orwig said without elaboration.

“We’re definitely grateful to the sheriff’s office for how quickly and aggressively they responded to our report,” he added.

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