Kid porn alleged in arrest

Ex-teacher’s aide had thousands of photos, cops say

A 63-year-old Grand Junction man who worked as a teacher’s aide and was a volunteer mentor to local children was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of possessing thousands of images of child pornography on a computer hard drive at his home.

Michael John Morrow, 559 Greenfield Circle East, told federal agents he had about 13,000 pornographic images of “toddlers to teens” that he had been collecting for years, according to an arrest affidavit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court.

Morrow recently had been hired by School District 51 as a teacher’s aide at Grand Mesa Middle School to assist seventh- and eighth-grade students, district spokesman Jeff Kirtland said.

Morrow, who resigned Tuesday, was hired as a classified employee Oct. 7 and had passed the district’s extensive criminal background checks, Kirtland said.

Since May, Morrow had been a volunteer mentor for a Grand Valley boy through Mesa County Partners, director Joe Higgins said. Higgins said he was told by law enforcement that there was no evidence the boy, or any other child involved with Partners, was victimized by Morrow. That boy and his family have been offered counseling, Higgins said.

Higgins also said there was no indication according to Partners’ background checks that Morrow had a criminal history on either a national or local level. Neither did Morrow exhibit any unusual behavior that would lead other Partners leaders to suspect he was excessively interested in children.

“We train our staff to look for that kind of thing,” Higgins said.

Morrow worked as a sports department copy editor for The Daily Sentinel between May 2007 and February of this year.

He more recently wrote sports columns for The Grand Junction Free Press, but he was not an employee there and wasn’t paid for his contributions, Managing Editor Josh Nichols said.

Nichols said Morrow wrote seven columns since June about kids events, but none of those stories were written from the newspaper’s office.

Federal officers executed a search warrant at Morrow’s home Tuesday, after interviewing him Monday at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Grand Junction.

Morrow told officials he obtained the photos from a man named Chris (whose last name is unknown) in the Netherlands, the affidavit said. Morrow told agents he used his personal computer to send and receive images over the Internet, and that he stored those images on an external hard drive.

“Morrow stated that he had been collecting and sharing such images for a number of years,” the affidavit said.

After interviewing Morrow and obtaining a search warrant, agents said they viewed five images from Morrow’s external hard drive of children engaged in sexually explicit conduct, the affidavit said.

Jeff Dorschner, spokesman for Colorado’s U.S. Attorney’s Office, said authorities were alerted to the case after receiving information that someone at Morrow’s Grand Junction address may be receiving the illegal images through the home’s Internet Protocol address. Dorschner said he couldn’t say exactly how the investigation was initiated.

ICE agents became involved because the alleged crime crossed international borders when the images were sent via the Internet.

Morrow appeared locally in federal court Wednesday afternoon, but he will have bond set before a federal judge Monday in Denver, Dorschner said. He is in federal custody in Mesa County.

Dorschner said state authorities are investigating whether any minors were victimized by Morrow.

Morrow does not have a criminal history in the state, according to records from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

If convicted on charges of possessing child pornography, Morrow faces up to 10 years in federal prison and up to a $250,000 fine.

Investigators said anyone with more information about the case should call the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department at 244-3500.


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