Former OU professor gets probation in child porn images case


By Conor Morris - For The Columbus Dispatch - (TNS)



An Athens County judge has sentenced a former Ohio University professor to probation after he accepted a plea deal in which dozens of child pornography charges against him were dropped.

Athens County Common Pleas Court Judge George McCarthy on Friday sentenced Amol T. Kharabe, 45, of Dublin, to five years of community control and a stipulation to spend 180 days at Alvis House, an Ohio-based rehabilitation center.

McCarthy ignored a recommendation from the Athens County Prosecutor’s office arguing for Kharabe to be sentenced to four years in prison on the charges he pleaded guilty to: a third-degree felony count of tampering with evidence; a fifth-degree felony count of receiving stolen property, and a fourth-degree felony count of unauthorized use of property.

A grand jury indicted Kharabe in January 2014 on nine second-degree felony counts of pandering obscenity involving a minor, and one count each of pandering obscenity and possessing criminal tools. A superseding indictment filed that year brought that total up to roughly 20 total child pornography counts. He was indicted again in late 2015 on a fifth-degree felony count of receiving stolen property, and yet again in late 2016 on 40 more child pornography counts.

However, each child pornography charge was dropped as a result of the plea agreement negotiated recently, according to a release from the Athens County Prosecutor’s office.

Kharabe, while a professor at Ohio University, was found to be in possession of images depicting child pornography, county Prosecutor Keller Blackburn said in the release. “The state agreed to non-sex offenses due to the files only being partially downloaded and Kharabe needing to travel internationally for his sick minor child, but (the state) felt his actions still warranted a prison sentence.”

Kharabe was originally indicted after the Franklin County sheriff’s office’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force contacted Athens-area police in September 2013 regarding an IP address operating on OU’s network that had downloaded pornographic material involving minors, which was traced to an off-campus apartment in Athens where Kharabe lived.

Assistant Athens County Prosecutor Zach Saunders said this week that the charges Kharabe was convicted of relate to him using a laptop belonging to a former employer to look up the alleged child pornography files, and him attempting to delete some of those files.

However, Saunders said that an issue arose in the case against Kharabe as to whether or not he could actually view the files.

Saunders cited “a lot of abnormalities in this case that you don’t normally see,” but declined to elaborate.

The case lasted a long time (roughly five years) in part because of the complexity of the case and the need for multiple witnesses and experts’ testimony, Saunders added.

Kharabe’s employment with OU was terminated in May 2015.

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By Conor Morris

For The Columbus Dispatch

(TNS)

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