Villanova prof charged with child porn under scrutiny since 2012

    St. Thomas of Villanova Church on the university campus. History professor Christopher is now in custody after he was charged with hundreds of child pornography-related counts. hCPaynter/WHYY)

    St. Thomas of Villanova Church on the university campus. History professor Christopher is now in custody after he was charged with hundreds of child pornography-related counts. hCPaynter/WHYY)

    Prosecutors in Radnor Township have charged a Villanova University professor with 415 counts of child pornography.

    Tenured history professor Christopher Haas, 60, has been under investigation for four years, leading some to wonder why it took so long to file the charges.

    Federal investigators discovered more than 400 images on Haas’ Villanova-issued laptop in 2012.

    The Department of Homeland Security is mum on why Haas wasn’t prosecuted back then, but former U.S. Attorney and Temple Law professor Lauren Ouziel said it’s not out of the ordinary.

    “Federal prosecutors generally have more stringent standards for charging,” Ouziel said. “And they also have more discretion in declining charges. So it’s not unusual at all for federal prosecutors to decline a case for a variety of reasons, not necessarily related to the strength of the evidence. “

    Radnor police said they became involved after university officials alerts them about Haas’ suspicious activity on a computer in a common area. Two weeks after Radnor police obtained more information from federal investigators, charges were filed.

    “They had served a warrant at the residence, had obtained the information and evidence from his computer, and as a result of that, it was turned over to us,” Radnor Police Lt. Andy Block said.

    Villanova has relieved Haas of all duties and is working to revoke his tenure. The link to his university profile on the school’s website is now dead.

    Haas, in Delaware County custody, will be arraigned later this month.

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