- Associated Press - Monday, February 8, 2016

GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) - A former University of North Dakota medical department chairman says he will plead guilty to child pornography charges.

The deal entered in federal court Friday calls for Dr. Robert Beattie to plead guilty to receipt and distribution of child pornography. The charges carry a minimum of five years in prison and a maximum penalty of 40 years.

Beattie, 55, was the chairman of UND’s Family and Community Medicine Department. The school placed Beattie on paid administrative leave shortly after he was arrested Aug. 6, after which the North Dakota Board of Medical Examiners suspended Beattie’s medical license. UND officials said Beattie resigned from his job, but had no further comment.

Defense attorney Peter Welte, of Grand Forks, said Beattie has cooperated with law enforcement from the beginning.

“This is an unusual case,” Welte told The Associated Press. “Rob Beattie is a good man. With the support of his family and his friends, he will continue to work through the justice system until this case is completely adjudicated.”

The plea agreement says Beattie should receive credit at sentencing for acceptance of responsibility and timely notice of the guilty plea.

Authorities say Beattie had about 100 videos and more than 700 images of child porn on a thumb drive seized from his office computer, some of which depicted “sadistic or masochistic conduct or other depictions of violence.” Beattie allegedly accessed the images between April and August of last year.

The plea deal calls for Beattie to pay an undisclosed amount of restitution and register as a sex offender.

A change of plea hearing is scheduled March 21 in Fargo.

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