Second UND student arrested on child porn charges

GRAND FORKS - A second University of North Dakota student in as many months has been arrested on child pornography charges.Noah Nicholas Ho Gianfranceschi, 18, was charged Friday, Oct. 20, in Grand Forks District Court with 10 counts of possessin...

GRAND FORKS - A second University of North Dakota student in as many months has been arrested on child pornography charges.

Noah Nicholas Ho Gianfranceschi, 18, was charged Friday, Oct. 20, in Grand Forks District Court with 10 counts of possessing certain materials prohibited, all of which are Class C felonies. He was arrested Thursday after police said they found at least 10 images on his electronical devices depicting young children performing sexual acts, some with adults, according to court documents.

The children in images described as thumbnails of videos ranged from ages 4 to 14 years old, according to court documents. One image came from a video officers know features a child victim, according to the documents.

After collecting information from UND's Core Technology Services, officers obtained a warrant to search Gianfranceschi's devices at his room in Smith Hall, located on campus, according to charging documents. Gianfranceschi allegedly said he downloaded images onto his cellphone.

"Gianfranceschi admitted that he would then transfer the files to his laptop and delete the files once finished with them," officers wrote in the police report.

In total, investigators found 200 images they are investigating, according to the report.

Gianfranceschi, whose listed address was Grand Forks, started studying at UND in August, according to his Facebook page. UND Police Sgt. Daniel Weigel confirmed Gianfranceschi was a student but declined to say what the student was studying.

Several agencies assisted in the investigation, including the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

Each Class C felony carries a maximum punishment of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Gianfranceschi is now a part of a growing list of defendants with connections to UND arrested on child pornography charges in recent years. Connor David Brennan of Apple Valley, Minn., turned himself in Aug. 1 and was charged with five counts of possessing child porn, all Class C felonies. The 20-year-old UND student was studying aviation. His next court hearing is Nov. 16.

Officers also arrested three former UND staff members on child porn charges in the past two years, including Robert William Beattie, a former UND chairman of Family and Community Medicine. He was sentenced July 2016 to 12 years in federal prison.

In February, ex-UND police officer Paul Bradley Meagher was sentenced to 10 years in prison on federal child porn charges. Former UND aviation professor Eric Hewitt Basile was sentenced last month to 16 years in a federal prison for similar charges.

Weigel said he is unaware of any connection with the cases.

"The University has made a thorough examination and has found no connection between any of the situations that resulted in arrests for child pornography," UND spokesman Peter Johnson said in an email.

The school is aware of the arrest and is cooperating with law enforcement, Johnson said in a prepared statement. He added the safety of students, faculty and staff is a top priority and it is "committed to ongoing education, prevention and policies related to this issue."

"With this in mind, the university has been working with technical experts to implement best solutions and systems designed to prevent the transmission of child pornography through university information technology systems," he wrote.

UND has a large and complicated information technology footprint, but it has taken multiple steps to address cyber crimes, Johnson said.

"We are appalled that any student, faculty or staff would engage in any activity related to child pornography," he said in the email. "Such action is absolutely counter to what the University of North Dakota stands for."