Local News

Durham teacher faces child porn investigation

Posted December 15, 2008

— The State Bureau of Investigation is looking into a Durham teacher who agents say they suspect of sharing child pornography over the Internet, authorities said Monday.

Through an undercover investigation online, SBI agents identified an Internet address sharing more than 1,800 images of suspected child pornography from October through December, according to a search warrant served by the SBI and Durham police.

"The computer has been a real boon for child pornography," North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said. "It's just unfortunate and shocking how pervasive these cases are."

Undercover work and subpoenas linked the Internet address to Willem J. Pet. The 61-year-old teaches English as a second language at Southern High School in Durham.

The SBI and Durham police searched Pet’s home last week and seized computer files and other records for forensic analysis.

The warrant described photos showing underage children in provocative poses and engaging in sexual intercourse with adults.

Pet has not been formally charged, but Cooper said he expects federal charges to be filed soon.

Durham Public School officials said that Pet has been suspended with pay, pending the investigation. He has worked for DPS since August 2005.

Neighbors were surprised to hear about the investigation into Pet, a husband and father of adult children.

"This is not who I know, and we've known him for a long time. It's a shock," neighbor Jan Pulley said.

The SBI discovered the suspected illicit online activities while training local law enforcement officers how to catch Internet predators and child pornographers, authorities said.

State laws that went into effect two weeks ago strengthened penalties for possession, dissemination and production of child pornography. The measure also increased the penalty for predators who solicit children over the Internet and then show up at a meeting place to assault a child.

"This is just one of many cases that we've run across that we investigate. And if it turns out that crimes are being committed, we will work with either state or federal authorities to prosecute it to the fullest extent of the law," Cooper said.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • Dr. Dataclerk Dec 16, 2008

    He is guilty as sin and should have been fired when found out immediately. Prison time of 20 years would not hurt either.

  • just a gee Dec 16, 2008


  • soccermomof2guys Dec 15, 2008

    I just think "no comment" would have been a better reply.

  • animaenagerie Dec 15, 2008

    soccermom: Did I miss something? I don't think you should comment on your neighbors either, but it didn't sound like she was doing anything but defending him and/or expressing surprise. Again, did I miss something?

  • soccermomof2guys Dec 15, 2008

    wow, Jan Pulley, you are quite a friend! One day the tables will turn and you will be accused of something. How would you feel if a neighbor/friend talked to the media about your personal life. I hope you sleep well because I couldn't if I were you

  • VT1994Hokie Dec 15, 2008

    Well. It is a move in the right direction. These people need to go. When I was a principal, I did my own stuff when somone came to me looking for a job.

    Those in the CO need to do a more thorough job!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Obviously someone didn't do the right checks. These people are scarring lives.

  • djofraleigh Dec 15, 2008

    What was this man doing up until 2005? Someone look into his background, please.

    As for the school notifying parents, what can they say? They didn't investigate and don't know more than we do. They are as scared of trial lawyers as everyone else.

    Where are the presumed innocent people? I'm not one of them, but we don't know it was THIS man, only his computer. We all have the same feeling about such cases...he did it. He should have recognized his tendency long ago, and avoided jobs around children and the internet. He didn't do either, or any.

  • Eduardo1 Dec 15, 2008

    Typical WRAL, not yet charged yet, but name is leaked. I am at the front of the parade, if someone is GUILTY of child porno, to cut those tender parts from the guilty persons lower body, but can we not wait until at least officially charged before the name is released

  • gingerlynn Dec 15, 2008

    The graphic details in the search warrant are disgusting. Shouldn't some of them have been blacked out???

  • Tom Morrow Dec 15, 2008

    "First remember: innocent until proven guilty"

    Ha ha ha ha ha... HA HA HA HA HA HA!!! Clearly, you are a n00b here on WRAL's golo... There is no such concept, and EVERY case is a capital case... LOL LOL, thanks for the Monday laugh...