OU Professor Seeks Suppression Of Evidence In Child Porn Case

By
Susan Tebben - Athens Messenger staff reporter

Dateline
Updated Sat, Aug 2, 2014 9:59 am
Amol T. Kharabe, an assistant business professor at Ohio University, faces charges of child pornography stemming from a Feb. 10 arrest

An Ohio University professor facing trial on charges of possessing child pornography is asking that evidence be left out of the case based on his Fourth Amendment rights.

Amol Kharabe, 41, of Dublin, has asked that the evidence seized from a Richland Avenue apartment he used while staying in Athens be struck from the case, according to court documents.

The charges stem from accusations that Kharabe knowingly had material “that shows a minor participating or engaging in sexual activity, masturbation, or beastiality,” court documents stated.

Kharabe was originally indicted in February on nine counts of pandering obscenity involving a minor, one count of pandering obscenity, one count of illegal use of a minor in a nudity-oriented material or performance and one count of possessing criminal tools.

In May he was served with additional charges in a superseding indictment. That indictment added nine more charges, all for fourth-degree felonies of pandering sexually-oriented matter involving a minor, according to previous Messenger reporting. He has pleaded innocent to all charges.

Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn said previously that the second crop of charges are “alternative” charges, meaning they will either replace the original counts of pandering obscenity or be dismissed.

But a motion filed Thursday, attorney Thomas Tyack argues that investigators violated Kharabe’s rights by seizing information off equipment and devices seized from an apartment at 3108 Richland Avenue.

Investigators went to the address after receiving information that an IP address allegedly operating on Ohio University’s network was reportedly downloading pornographic material involving minors, the motion stated. Lt. Jeff McCall of the Athens Police Department is specifically mentioned in the motion.

“(McCall) then spoke with the apartment complex manager and learned apartment 3018 was leased by the Ohio University College of Business in which visiting professors would stay there for short periods of time,” Tyack wrote. “The ... College of Business further explained that this particular apartment was a four bedroom/four bathroom apartment and each professor had a key to their individual bedroom.”

In September 2013, the police department conducted a search and seized equipment, computers discs and other devices.

“No search warrant was obtained based on probable cause to search the contents of the various equipment, items, or devices,” Tyack said.

The attorney argued that the search warrant “did not define the scope of the search of the subject matter or electronic images within the devices seized,” instead, it authorized a “blanket search” of the devices.

“Failure to define the scope of the search of the subject matter on the devices renders the search warrant overbroad and invalid,” the motion stated.

While McCall was able to determine the make and model of the wireless router allegedly used to download the material, Tyack said he could not determine if the router was in the apartment, whether it was a secure router or what electronic devices had access to it.

“There are devices up to 500 feet away in other apartments or student dorms which could have had access to the wireless router,” Tyack stated.

The prosecution has not filed a response to the motion, nor has Athens County Common Pleas Judge George McCarthy issued a ruling on the matter.

Kharabe was released on his own recognizance and a hearing on the motion is scheduled for Oct. 1. A jury trial in the case is currently scheduled for November.

 

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