- Associated Press - Monday, March 28, 2016

FARGO, N.D. (AP) - A former University of North Dakota medical department chairman pleaded guilty to a pair of child pornography charges in federal court Monday.

Dr. Robert Beattie is charged with receipt and distribution of materials containing child pornography, and possession of child pornography. He faces a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison and a minimum mandatory term of five 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. Beattie later resigned from the school.

Authorities say Beattie had about 100 videos and more than 700 images of child pornography on a thumb drive seized from his office computer, some of which depicted “sadistic or masochistic conduct or other depictions of violence.” The drive contained images and videos showing what appeared to be children ranging in age from 1 to 14 years old engaging in sexual acts with adults or other children, court documents show.

Beattie allegedly accessed the images from online chat rooms between April and August.

“Dr. Beattie has cooperated with law enforcement to the extent possible,” defense attorney Peter Welte said after Monday’s hearing. “He’s looking forward to this matter being concluded.”

Prosecutors declined to comment.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Klemetsrud Puhl told U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson that the government plans to ask for restitution for victims in the case, but have not determined a dollar amount.

Sentencing is scheduled for July 12. The plea agreement signed last month says Beattie should receive credit for acceptance of responsibility and timely notice of the guilty plea.

Beattie was released under special circumstances, including a condition that will not allow him to have overnight visits with his grandchildren.

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