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Judge Hears Motions in Child Porn Case Against Former UVA Professor

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ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) -

Update: On Tuesday, May 9, a judge granted a continuance to the commonwealth. Walter Korte's jury trial was rescheduled to June 5.


A judge will allow some key pieces of evidence in the trial against a former University of Virginia professor, despite striking down a search warrant used by police to investigate the case.

Seventy-two-year-old former film studies professor Walter Francis Korte Jr. appeared in Albemarle County Circuit Court Wednesday, February 8, as his defense team argued in support of a motion to suppress evidence.

County police arrested Korte August 2, 2016, and charged him with two counts of possession of child pornography. He was released on bond September 6, and was then involved in an attempted suicide two days later in Albemarle County.

Prosecutors say Korte's arrest came on the heels of a four-day investigation, initiated when someone began dumping documents into a dumpster along Cabell Drive, near Korte's Bryan Hall office. Police also searched his home on Fosters Branch Road in Albemarle County.

According to an affidavit struck by Judge Cheryl Higgins Wednesday, and subsequently obtained by NBC29, UVA Police officers witnessed a man they believed to be Korte dumping the contents of two brown paper bags into the dumpster.

Investigators claim to have recovered hundreds of images from the dumpster, some of which allegedly contain pre-pubescent boys "lewdly naked, or involved in sex acts," according to a search warrant.

Defense attorneys say that description is too "ambiguous" to prove the images depicted acts of child pornography, particularly since investigators did not attach the photos to the initial search warrant.

"Could they have attached the images? Absolutely. Should they have? Probably," said assistant Albemarle County Commonwealth's Attorney Amanda Galloway, in oral arguments Wednesday.

"Might as well rubber-stamp it if that's all [police] have to do, is use an ambiguous term," said Korte's defense attorney Bonnie Lepold.

After several hours of consideration, the judge ruled the search warrant invalid.

Higgins echoed defense arguments that the photos containing alleged child sexual activity may not meet the required standard to prove a child pornography case in Virginia, but cited a legal exception to allow jurors to see the photos as evidence.

Korte is free on bond pending his trial, which is set for May 9 in Albemarle County Circuit Court.

University officials say Korte retired from his teaching post effective November 1, 2016. He had previously been on administrative leave.

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