Editor’s note: It is the Boomerang’s policy not to run names of defendants in sex crime cases until a conviction, or guilty or no contest pleas, unless the accused is a person of public interest, such as an elected official, or a person of public trust, such as a teacher or counselor.
A University of Wyoming assistant professor was federally charged with child pornography possession this week after allegedly possessing sexually explicit videos and images of minors.
If convicted, Jian Cai, 34, could face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, according to documents filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court.
As of Wednesday evening, Cai was listed as an assistant professor of mechanical engineering on the UW College of Engineering and Applied Science website.
Court documents state the investigation began Feb. 14, when a special agent with the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation looked into a peer-to-peer file-sharing network and determined one particular internet protocol address — the address of a computer or other device connected to a network — was a possible source of multiple child pornography files.
The agent was able to download a child pornography file from the address, and on March 8, Charter Communications responded to a federal summons request to identify the person subscribed to that address, and the results contained Cai’s name and physical address, documents state.
On March 18, the agent downloaded another child pornography file from the IP address, which contained 36 image files, documents state. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children determined 35 of the 37 images from the two downloads depicted children previously identified as victims, according to the documents.
On March 22, a search warrant was executed on Cai’s address, and during an interview with two DCI agents, Cai reportedly said he used his laptop to search for child pornography with peer-to-peer software and there were several hundred files located on an external hard drive in his home, the documents state.
He also confirmed he was an assistant professor at UW and used his personal laptops to access the internet through the university’s network, according to the documents.
An external hard drive seized from Cai’s residence contained about 1,000 suspected video and image files of children and adults engaging in sexual acts, and one video of an underage girl was part of a known victim series identified by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, documents state.
Cai was released from the Albany County Detention Center on March 24 after posting a $30,000 cash bond, according to jail records.
In an email sent Thursday, UW Director of Institutional Education Chad Baldwin acknowledged university officials are aware of Cai’s arrest.
“The University of Wyoming is aware of the charges against Jian Cai and is taking appropriate personnel actions,” Baldwin writes. “The university condemns the possession of child pornography and similar criminal offenses and is cooperating fully with law enforcement authorities in this investigation.”