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UH professor pleads not guilty to child porn charges

  • COURTESY UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII

    Beei Huan Chao, 61, is a mechanical engineering professor at UH-Manoa. A university spokesman said the professor was placed on paid administrative leave this morning.

A University of Hawaii professor pleaded not guilty today in federal court to charges of possessing and transporting child pornography.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Kurren ordered Beei-Huan Chao, 61, released on an unsecured $50,000 bond into the custody of his wife, Jean. The judge ordered Chao to obtain a $250,000 bond secured by property he owns within 30 days, and scheduled a hearing for an update on Sept. 6.

A federal grand jury indictment that was unsealed today charges Chao with one count of distributing “visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct, namely, approximately 14 videos.” The indictment says that on or about Feb. 11, Chao knowingly transported and shipped the material.

The indictment also charges him with one count of possessing child pornography in files on a desktop computer and external hard drive on or about June 2. The files included visual depictions of minors under age 12 and were produced using materials that had been shipped and transported between states and involved commerce with a foreign country.

The transportation charge carries a minimum punishment of five years in prison up to a maximum of 20 years, while the possession charge carries a maximum 20-year sentence because it involved minors under the age of 12.

“The evidence against him is very strong,” assistant U.S. attorney Michael Nammar said in court.

Chao, who was arrested Wednesday, entered his plea wearing a white jumpsuit and a belly chain with handcuffs attached in front.

In arguing that his client does not pose a flight risk, attorney Michael Park said Chao, who immigrated to Hawaii from Taiwan, has been in the islands since 1981 and is an American citizen with full-time employment.

Chao is a mechanical engineering professor at UH-Manoa. A university spokesman said the professor was placed on paid administrative leave this morning.

While he awaits trail, the judge ordered Chao not to have any contact with any person under age 18, including contact in person, by phone, written or electronically.

Park and Jean Chao declined to comment outside the courtroom.

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  • “…and were produced using materials that had been shipped and transported between states and involved commerce with a foreign country.” Produced with a Japanese-brand camera assembled in Thailand, with sensor made in Kumamoto, batteries and storage media made in China, purchased from Amazon, and shipped to Hawaii from Kentucky. Is this an exacerbating or an extenuating circumstance?

  • I heard from many he was actually a good professor. sad if true, because good professors are far and few between especially the ones that teach STEM subjects. the primary task for professors at universities is their research…

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