Dracut man pleads guilty to child-porn charge

Police found child pornography on defendant's tablet

PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:

DRACUT — A 60-year-old Dracut man who pleaded guilty to one count of possessing child pornography was sentenced to two years of probation.

Michael Murphy Sr. was arrested April 2, 2018, after Dracut police found multiple images of the sexual abuse of young girls and an infant on his Kindle tablet, according to a police report viewed in Lowell District Court.

He pleaded guilty earlier this year.

Dracut police had previously received a tip from the Massachusetts State Police Computer Crimes Unit, Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force that someone with a specific IP address had uploaded an image of child pornography involving a young girl between 4- and 7-years-old, a police report states.

The Massachusetts Attorney General’s office filed an administrative subpoena, requiring Comcast Internet Services to provide records related to the IP address. The information supplied by Comcast revealed the IP address belonged to Murphy.

While police searched Murphy’s house, the defendant told officers that he “may” have seen “inappropriate and questionable sexual images” online on his “Kindle or Nook,” according to a police report. Later in a police interview, he said he used the Kindle to play solitaire and that it was not connected to the internet.

Murphy told police that his family members did not know the passwords to his Kindle and laptop. He said his wife may know the password to his phone. “Nobody uses my stuff,” he said to police.

When asked about the images, Murphy told police that “quite a while ago,” he would visit the website Fandango, and that a link may have have popped up on his family’s desktop computer. Police reported that Murphy’s answers were “inconsistent and vague.”

Police arrested Murphy and seized three HP laptops, a Dell laptop, an iPhone, a Gateway tower, a Toshiba laptop, a Kindle Fire and a white tablet.

Murphy is the husband of Dracut School Committee member Betsy Murphy.

His probation conditions include continuing treatment at a VA hospital (including sex offender treatment), having no unsupervised contact with children under 18 years old, having no access to internet services from handheld devices, having no access to social networking sites except for email, not disguising his identity or encrypting online information, disclosing the names of all online services he uses, providing monthly cellphone and internet provider bills to probation, and not allowing others in his residence to access his computer.

Assistant District Attorney Allison Brown also requested that Murphy be required to register as a sex offender.

At his April 9 sentencing, Judge John Coffey allowed a motion filed by attorney William Galvin, who represented Murphy, which states that Murphy is not required to register as a sex offender.

Galvin did not respond to two phone calls requesting comment. Betsy Murphy also did not respond to a request for comment.