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The Indiana Daily Student

city crime & courts

IU professor emeritus charged with possession of child pornography

Crime Filler

Editor’s Note: This story includes mention of potentially triggering situations, such as child pornography and abuse. 

A former IU professor was arrested Jan. 9 after reportedly using his IU email to view child pornography.  

Bloomington Police Department began investigating Richard Wilk, 70, on Dec. 13 after receiving a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Dropbox flagged Wilk’s account for child pornography.  

After filing a search warrant for the Dropbox account, BPD found sexual images and videos of children, some of which detectives determined to be under the age of 12. According to the probable cause affidavit, the account contained a “large quantity” of child pornography.   

In addition to pornographic content, the Dropbox account listed under Wilk’s IU email address contained family photos, medical records, financial information and documents related to his teaching at IU. 

On the morning of Jan. 9, police searched Wilk’s home on Oak Ridge Drive in Bloomington. According to the affidavit, one detective took Wilk out to his car to talk, where Wilk admitted to viewing child pornography. Wilk told the detective he was curious and had an addiction problem. The affidavit said Wilk advised the detective he should be pursuing the people who produce child pornography.  

Wilk was booked into Monroe County Jail later that morning and charged with a level 5 felony of possession of child pornography. The bond was set at $5,500, which he paid Jan. 10, according to court documents. 

Wilk currently holds the title of Distinguished Professor Emeritus at IU, where he taught anthropology from 1988 until his retirement in 2017, according to his biography on IU’s list of distinguished and titled professors. Considered one of the leading food anthropologists in the world, Wilk achieved “the most prestigious appointment offered by IU” when he was promoted from Provost Professor to Distinguished Professor in 2015.  

IU spokesperson Mike Bode said IU cannot comment on pending criminal investigations. When asked if the university plans to strip Wilk of any of his titles, Bode said decisions of that nature are normally made after the investigation has concluded and if there has been a conviction. 

Although Bode said Wilk last taught a course in fall 2016, his emeritus status allows him continued involvement in the IU community. This includes special access to university grants and funding, software, visiting lecturers and more, according to IU’s Emeriti Faculty webpage. Wilk received the IU Bicentennial Medal in September 2020, more than three years after his official retirement.  

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