Albemarle County Judge Denies Plea Deal in Child Pornography Case

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An Albemarle County judge is rejecting a plea deal for a former University of Virginia professor accused of possessing child pornography.

Walter Francis Korte Jr. was expected to enter a plea agreement with prosecutors in Albemarle Circuit Court on Tuesday, November 14, however Judge Cheryl Higgins didn't give her approval.

Korte was supposed to enter a plea deal in court on August 8. Under that agreement, he would avoid a trial by jury, enter a guilty plea to one count of child pornography possession, serve 12 months in jail, and register as a sex offender. Instead, Higgins wanted to review evidence and ordered a pre-sentencing report to gather additional information.

Another judge will now hear the case, which began last July when UVA Police officers received a call for suspected child pornography found in a Cabell Drive dumpster. Legal documents indicated that officers found images of clothed and unclothed guys who appeared to be in their late teens. Among the stack of images in the dumpster were magazines and junk mail addressed to Korte.

The former film studies professor was arrested on August 2, 2016. Authorities had executed search warrants for his vehicle, office inside Bryan Hall, and home on Fosters Branch Road in Albemarle County. According to court documents, Korte’s office contained, “substantial amounts of magazine clippings of celebrities, particularly young teens popular in the 70s through 90s.” Thousands of images were collected by investigators, the vast majority of which reportedly contained legal, adult pornography. However, authorities said one picture depicted child pornography.

Following Judge Higgin's decision on Tuesday, the defense now has the option to alter or withdraw Korte's plea deal. The new judge will have to decide if the case will go to trial or if a plea will be accepted.

Korte, who has been free on bond since September 6, 2016, will be back in court on December 4.