JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A former Jacksonville teacher is behind bars following a child pornography investigation.
In a release from the Department of Justice, on Weds., Feb. 2, federal agents executed a search warrant at the home of Michael Paul Gillis, 64, and seized a desktop computer with a hard drive that reportedly contained videos of the sexual abuse of young children.
According to court documents, Gillis said there were around “a couple hundred” videos and pictures on his desktop computer containing child pornography—and estimated that over the past ten years he had made “a couple thousand downloads”. Gillis said he sought out the material on the dark web.
Gillis reportedly told investigators that over a period of several years he had downloaded child pornography “several times”. He said the content depicted “mostly young teens” but admitted he had viewed and downloaded material with children as young as three years old.
Investigators say that Gillis did not believe he was a danger to anyone, adding while he was employed as a teacher he would fantasize about touching children inappropriately but had never acted on it. Gillis also said that his interest in children was limited to downloading and viewing child pornography and had never sought out a minor online.
Gillis claimed to have deleted much of the illicit content because it is morally wrong and illegal but said he continues to seek out new material because he cannot stop the urge to view it, according to court documents.
Gillis is charged with possessing a computer disk drive containing videos depicting the sexual abuse of children. He faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a potential lifetime term of supervised release.
Action News Jax has learned Gillis was a teacher for Duval County Public Schools from Aug. 1991 to Aug. 2007. We have requested his personnel file and will update you on-air and online as we learn more.
This is a developing story.
This is another case brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.
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