Ex-Springfield College employee David Linnehan admits 37 charges resulting from ‘almost one million images of child pornography’

Last modified: Wednesday, February 04, 2015

NORTHAMPTON — A Springfield College student said she is still reeling from the day she opened the letter informing her that a former college employee had downloaded a private photograph of her from her computer.

“Confusion, anger and disgust completely overtook my mind and body,” the student, told Hampshire Superior Court Judge Mary-Lou Rup Tuesday in a shaking voice.

The man who downloaded that image, David M. Linnehan, 39, of Granby, admitted in court Tuesday that he used his position in the college’s information technology department to access students’ private photographs. He also admitted to producing, possessing and distributing child pornography.

Assistant Attorney General Thomas Ralph said in court that police found “almost one million images of child pornography” on computers, hard drives and other electronic devices owned by Linnehan when he was arrested in 2013.

Linnehan pleaded guilty to two counts of exhibiting or posing a child in a state of nudity, eight counts of distributing child pornography, 11 counts of possessing child pornography, 13 counts of gaining unauthorized access to a computer, and one count each of attempting to commit a crime, unlicensed possession of a firearm, and improper storage of a firearm.

The student — the only one of Linnehan’s victims to address the court — said every subsequent phone call she has received from the attorney general’s office has meant more and more disturbing details about the crime. “This case is always on my mind,” she said.

The woman said she did not know Linnehan or what he was capable of, so she became uneasy and worried for her safety at the college. “I no longer walk alone on campus or leave campus in a car alone without the company of friends,” she said.

Linnehan is free on bail until his sentencing Feb. 20.

Ralph said he plans to recommend a 10-year state prison sentence with several concurrent House of Correction sentences, followed by five years probation.

Linnehan’s attorney, David P. Hoose of Northampton, said he will likely ask for a lesser, House of Correction sentence, followed by probation.

In court Tuesday, Ralph described several different ways Linnehan got his hands on child pornography, how he distributed it, and how he gained access to personal images of adult college students.

In March 2013, the federal Naval Criminal Investigative Services notified the attorney general’s office that an email address belonging to Linnehan had distributed child pornography. Police arrested him the following month and recovered 11 electronic devices that contained child pornography, as well as a pistol that was not locked or legally possessed.

Ralph said police determined that Linnehan exchanged emails with Amanda Lambert, a California woman who agreed on two occasions to send nude photos of one of her juvenile daughters to him, Ralph said. Linnehan also sent her eight images of nude children.

According to U.S. District Court documents, Lambert pleaded guilty Oct. 6 to sexual exploitation of a child and distributing child pornography and was sentenced to 22 years in federal prison. Documents show that an anonymous tipster notified authorities that Lambert, a mother of four, was distributing sexually explicit photographs of her children via email.

Ralph said that Linnehan also solicited self-produced nude photographs from a 14-year-old girl via the internet, though Ralph said the state could not prove Linnehan knew the girl was a minor at the time he asked for the photographs. The girl told police that he asked her again for nude photographs after learning her age but she declined to send them, which Ralph said resulted in the charge of attempting to commit a crime.

Further investigation revealed that Linnehan had used his position in the Springfield College information technology department to gain unauthorized access to students’ school email accounts and a personal Gmail account, and to the computers of students who wanted them serviced. He downloaded personal photographs and stored them on his home and work computers, Ralph said.

The attorney general’s office said in an earlier statement that it worked with Springfield College to identify and notify those students.

Rebecca Everett can be reached at reverett@gazettenet.com.


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