Middlebury College employee freed for child pornography

United States District Court
The United States District Court for the District of Vermont in Burlington. Photo by Elizabeth Hewitt / VTDigger

A senior technology specialist at Middlebury College faces federal charges of possession of child pornography after authorities say a researcher illegally hacked his computer and found the footage.

Bristol resident Scott Remick, 46, who also owns the Vermont Geek computer repair business, was released on parole following a detention hearing in federal court in Burlington on Friday.

Images found on Remick’s computer show children as young as 7 engaging in sexual acts, including handcuffed and enslaved children, according to an affidavit from Special Agent Michael McCullagh.

The researcher also found communication files between Remick and “Jeanie,” who the researcher said could be a teenager, exchanging child pornography images, according to the affidavit.

The researcher, whose identity has not been disclosed by authorities, works as a private software developer and security analyst looking for a specific software security flaw. Researcher’s bot – automatic software that performs repetitive tasks – illegally hacked Remick’s computer and found such a loophole before discovering child pornography images, chat files and an image of Remick’s driver’s license. in Vermont, which allowed the researcher to identify Remick. , according to the affidavit.

The researcher then informed the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children information line and Vermont State Police on June 16. In doing so, the researcher admitted to illegally accessing Remick’s computer without any assurances that they would not be charged with the crime.

“I don’t know how to handle this, and I’m trying to do the moral thing here,” the researcher wrote in an email to state police. “What I saw shook me deep within myself, and honestly, I never could have imagined being here in this position.”

The researcher was then granted immunity, according to the affidavit.

After searching Remick’s house in Bristol and accessing his electronic devices remotely, the Homeland Security investigative officer arrested Remick for possession of child pornography. If convicted, Remick would serve up to 10 years in prison and be required to register as a sex offender.

Federal defense attorney Barclay T. Johnson has said he has serious concerns that Remick’s Fourth Amendment due process rights may be violated given he was indicted after the researcher illegally accessed to its records.

Johnson declined to comment on the matter to VTDigger.

The government is confident it will secure a conviction based on the strength of the evidence and the volume and extent of Remick’s collection, deputy U.S. lawyer Barbara A. Masterson said at the detention hearing by Remick on Friday.

Masterson on Wednesday filed a motion to detain Remick in criminal proceedings, saying Remick posed a danger to the community and a flight risk that no probation conditions could mediate.

There is no evidence that Remick produced the footage himself or had direct contact with producers, but Masterson argued that Remick still commits violence against children by consuming such footage. Child pornography, she said, is produced for people like Remick, and without such an audience it might not be produced at all.

“By having this collection of child pornography, of course, Remick has victimized every child depicted in these images,” Masterson wrote in the detention petition.

Masterson also expressed doubts that probation officers would be able to monitor Remick and ensure that he no longer engages in any criminal activity given Remick’s advanced technological skills.

Remick has over 30 years of experience in computers and technology and has described himself as having an ‘unmatched skill set’ on his Bristol computer repair business website.

He was able to use a virtual private network that made his computer appear to be in Germany, not his home in Bristol, as well as an anonymous TOR browser to conceal his identity and location, according to Masterson and the affidavit he wrote. by McCullagh. He also placed advanced encryptions on his files to conceal his alleged collection of child pornography, they said.

Vermont District Judge Kevin J. Doyle dismissed Masterson’s motion to detain Remick and released him on probation until his preliminary hearing, scheduled for July 26. The judge said Remick, a longtime Vermont resident, has strong ties to the community and is not at risk of absconding.

Remick does not have a criminal record, serious mental health issues or a history of substance abuse, the judge noted.

While on probation, Remick will not be allowed to associate or come into contact, directly or indirectly, with a minor, or to go to places where children are known to congregate, including schools, grounds of games and day care centers.

If Remick violates his probation, he could be sentenced to an additional 10 years in prison beyond the 10-year sentence he already faces.

Middlebury College declined to comment on Remick’s employment status when the Valley Herald asked on Thursday.

Julia Ferrante, the college’s associate vice president for public affairs, told the Herald that Middlebury “complies and cooperates in all matters involving legitimate requests from the authorities. In the rare event of an arrest, we usually take the employee on leave and take other appropriate action while we collect more information. “

During the hearing, Masterson said Remick was unlikely to keep his job.

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