Former Northampton city councilor arrested on child pornography charges helped program Northampton youth film festival as recently as 2014 

  • John Morrison San Francisco Police Department 

Published: 4/5/2017 3:12:09 PM

NORTHAMPTON — A former Northampton city councilor arrested on child pornography charges last month was involved with the Northampton Arts Council’s youth film festival as late as 2014, but that involvement didn’t include interaction with children, officials said.

Mayor David Narkewicz said that John Morrison’s involvement with the KidsBestFest only involved shipping films from his home in California.

“In 2014, Mr. Morrison provided several short films to KidsBestFest that had been part of the Mill Valley Film Festival which he programmed,” Narkewicz wrote the Gazette.

The Arts Council’s director, Brian Foote, did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Morrison has pleaded not guilty to the charges: three for felony distribution of child pornography, and one for possession/control of child pornography. A separate charge initially included allegations that Morrison had more than 600 images, but that charge was dismissed.

The San Francisco Public Defender’s Office was listed as Morrison’s representation, according to the criminal clerk’s office at the San Francisco Superior Court. Messages left for Deputy Public Defender Chesa Boudin went unreturned.

Morrison owned and operated the now-defunct Pleasant Street Theater and Pleasant Street Video Store, and was Ward 4 city councilor in the 1990s.

“Shock and surprise pretty much covers it,” Northampton City Council President Bill Dwight said of the allegations. Dwight worked for Morrison at Pleasant Street Video for nearly 15 years in the ‘80s and ‘90s.

“It kind of floored me when I saw it,” Dwight said.

But Dwight said he and Morrison weren’t in contact much, and he knew nothing about Morrison’s life in California.

Morrison, 71, moved to San Francisco in 1999 to become director of education at the California Film Institute, according to his LinkedIn profile. Morrison was recently listed as the education director and Children’s FilmFest programmer on the California Film Institute’s website, but his name has since been removed.

San Francisco police began an investigation last November into an individual who was “uploading and trading graphic child pornography through a chat messenger application,” according to a press release. After executing a search warrant at Morrison’s residence, police allege they found “numerous media devices” containing child pornography videos and images.

San Francisco Police said the investigation remains ongoing and that anyone with information or suspects they had suspicious contact with Morrison to contact their Special Victims Unit at 415-558-5500.

Dusty Christensen can be reached at dchristensen@gazettenet.com.




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