Local News

Duke Student Arrested on Pornography Charges

Posted October 11, 1998 7:00 a.m. EDT

— Investigators tracking online kiddie porn have arrested a Duke student. Tom Baxter's room at a fraternity house was searched six months ago. Today, he was arrested.

When SBI detectives raided Baxter's room, they seized a load of computer equipment. And after 6 months of sorting through all of it, they found enough evidence to arrest him Monday morning. All this comes as a shock to University officials and students.

"I think if these allegations are true, this would be a disgrace that a Duke student is involved in this kind of stuff," said Jason Gonzales.

Gonzales remembers the day last April when investigators swarmed into the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity house next to his dorm.

Court records show SBI agents seized a computer, hard drives and software from Baxter's room. What they found led to Baxter's arrest.

He is charged with gathering and posting kiddie porn on the Internet. The records also reveal Baxter was using the online name "Tommyboy," and through an Internet connection in his room, sent the pictures out on the World Wide Web.

Baxter did not have anything to say about the charges after he posted bond Monday afternoon. His next door neighbor said he was surprised.

"I didn't see any of the stuff, but he was my good friend and would never do that stuff," said neighbor Ben Link.

Al Rossiter is with Duke University. He is surprised this investigation led to this campus.

"No idea whatsoever the Internet is a powerful tool, and it can be abused," Rossiter said.

University officials may begin their own investigation now. Rossiter says they will probably wait until the criminal case is resolved before taking any action.