Former Track Coach Charged with Child Pornography Distribution

Former Harvard track coach Walter W. Johnson ’71 was arrested and charged with the possession and distribution of child pornography Thursday, the United States Attorney’s office announced.

Johnson served as a track coach for the Harvard men’s and women’s teams from 1982 to 2006. After more than 20 years at Harvard, Johnson began working as the assistant track coach and a special education teaching assistant at Wellesley High and Middle Schools. He played on the football team in his junior and senior years and was the captain of the track team while an undergraduate at Harvard.

For months, Johnson allegedly exchanged messages containing sexually explicit comments and images with users on the website Craigslist.

Federal agents began investigating Johnson in January, eventually tracing explicit Craigslist messages back to email accounts belonging to Johnson. Agents searched Johnson’s home in Framingham, Mass. Thursday morning, and initial on-site forensic analysis found child pornography on Johnson’s electronic devices, according to the criminal complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office Thursday.

During the search of his home, Johnson confirmed that he was the user of the email accounts and had used Craigslist personal advertisements to exchange explicit messages with other individuals, primarily men. Homeland Security Investigation’s Boston’s Cyber Crimes and Child Exploitation Group carried out the investigation along with the Internet Crimes Against Children task force and Framingham Police Department.

Charged with one count of distribution and one count of possession of child pornography, Johnson will be detained until his hearing, which is scheduled for May 1. Distribution of child pornography carries a mandatory minimum five year sentence that can extend up to 20 years with three years of supervised release afterwards and a $250,000 fine. Possession of child pornography could yield Johnson another 10 years in prison and an additional $250,000 fine.

—Staff writer Brittany N. Ellis can be reached at brittany.ellis@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @britt_ellis10.

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