Local News

N.C. State Student Faces Child Porn Charge

Posted March 2, 2007 11:59 p.m. EST
Updated March 3, 2007 5:04 p.m. EST

— A student at North Carolina State University was arrested Friday and charged with downloading child pornography.

Last week, N.C. State Campus Police were contacted by the Pennsylvania State Police Internet Crimes Division about a computer IP address at the university that was downloading content.

A subpoena showed the IP address belonged to Mark Aaron Vasconcellos, 20, who resides at Wolf Village Apartments.

Campus police searched Vasconcellos' residence Friday and seized his computer.

Vasconcellos, who is from Waxhaw, N.C., in Union County is charged with one count of felony second-degree exploitation of a minor. He was in custody at the Wake County Jail Friday afternoon under a $250,000 secured bond. His first court appearance is scheduled for March 5.

Students on campus were shocked to learn about the charges.

"Anyone who downloads any kind of thing that looks at little children is absolutely sick to me," said Orrick Quick, a senior.

Ryan Bragg lives with Vasconcellos in the Wolf Village Apartments. WRAL broke the news to him about the roommate he's been friends with since high school. His reaction: "surprised."

The door to Vasconcellos' room is covered with cartoons and a poster that says, "It's all about me. Deal with it."

Bragg said he can't believe the senior chemical engineering student could be accused of such a crime.

"He really doesn't seem like the type of guy who would find something like that interesting," Bragg said.

Vasconcellos isn't the first N.C. State student to be charged with this type of crime.

In 2004, a freshman was accused of using the computer in his dorm to download child pornography. In 1999, Jon Richard Brock, 18, was arrested for storing child porn on his computer. Timothy Gilrane, 22, faced similar charges. Both were later convicted on charges of preparation of obscene literature and sentenced to community service.

"It's very difficult to monitor everybody," said N.C. State Campus Police Chief Thomas Younce.

Younce said that with about 35,000 students and staff on campus, it's tough to keep track of online activity.

Authorities seized Vasconcellos' computer and handed it over to the State Bureau of Investigation for further investigation.