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updated: 5/18/2017 2:51 PM

Former Wheaton College professor back behind bars on child porn charges

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  • Donald Ratcliff

    Donald Ratcliff

 
 

A former Wheaton College professor, convicted in 2013 of child pornography charges, is back behind bars after admitting to violating his probation by potentially watching more child pornography.

Donald Ratcliff, 65, was charged in March 2012 after Carol Stream police found more than 500 images of child pornography on at least three of his seven home computers and three DVDs containing videos.

He pleaded guilty to the aggravated child pornography charge in August 2013 and was sentenced to 42 months in prison. A short time later Judge John Kinsella drastically reduced the sentence to 180 days in jail and four years of sex-offender probation, which prohibited him from owning a computer.

On March 18, however, Ratcliff, who is still in outpatient sex-offender counseling, petitioned the DuPage County probation department to allow him to own and use a computer outfitted with monitoring software. He received his computer on March 28.

"Less than one month later, at 3:02 p.m. on April 23, this defendant called his probation officer and reported the 'possible misuse of his computer,'" Assistant State's Attorney Mike Pawl told Kinsella Thursday morning.

Pawl said the monitoring software would show that in the early morning hours of April 23 Ratcliff watched, edited to improve the visual quality and burned a copy of the 1954 film "Garden of Eden" which, according to IMDB.com, is about a mother and young daughter who flee her abusive husband and take shelter in a nudist colony.

Pawl said Ratcliff admitted to watching the movie for sexual gratification and said he chose the film, hoping if probation officials were alerted by the monitoring software that they would think the website featuring the film was a religious site.

Kinsella ordered Ratcliff back to jail and held on $150,000 bail. His next court date is June 8 where prosecutors will attempt to revoke his probation.

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