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Crime & Courts

NIU graduate student faces child pornography charges

SYCAMORE – A Northern Illinois University graduate assistant was banned from campus Friday after being charged with possession and distribution of child pornography.

Michael Rydell, 26, of the 800 block of Spiros Court in DeKalb, could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted of the most serious charges of child pornography distribution. He is being held on $100,000 bond.

Rydell, originally from Indianapolis, is a graduate research assistant, but university officials delivered notification Friday that he was on temporary sanction, NIU spokesman Paul Palian said. That indicates Rydell is not permitted on campus and is the first step toward permanent academic sanctions.

According to court documents, DeKalb police started an undercover investigation into child pornography activity March 24. Officers discovered an IP address showing high activity and traced it to Rydell, court records show.

Police then obtained a search warrant for Rydell's home and arrested him after their search. According to police reports, Rydell admitted to possessing movies and images of child pornography.

The materials, Rydell told officers, included children as young as 8. He said he knew of peer-to-peer file sharing programs designed to share and download those illegal files.

Officers reported that Rydell told them he had been downloading child pornography since he was 14 years old.

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