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Columbia High School Teacher Arrested for Possession of Child Pornography

Columbia High School teacher Michael A. Morrill has been arrested and charged with possession of child pornography, according to Acting Union County Prosecutor Jennifer Davenport.

Michael Morrill, 55, has been teaching astronomy and psychics at CHS for nearly 25 years.

In an email to parents this afternoon, South Orange-Maplewood Interim Superintendent of Schools Dr. Gayle Carrick wrote, “Dear Members of the CHS Community, the primary concern of the South Orange & Maplewood School District continues to be the health, safety and well-being of all of our students, staff and families. To this end, please be advised that we have been notified by the Union County Prosecutor’s Office that a Columbia High School teacher has been charged with a criminal offense.  Based on this information appropriate action has been taken pending further notification from Law Enforcement and consideration by the Board of Education.  It is our understanding that the charge does not involve Columbia High School or Columbia High School students.  We are unable to comment on the allegations or investigation any further. Once again, we remain committed to protecting our children and the community.”

According to a release from Davenport’s office:

An astronomy and physics teacher at a public high school in Essex County has been arrested and charged with being in possession of digital files depicting the sexual exploitation of children, acting Union County Prosecutor Jennifer Davenport announced Thursday.

Michael A. Morrill, 55, is charged with third-degree possession of child pornography.

An investigation by the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) subdivision of the Prosecutor’s Office’s Cyber Crime Task Force initiated earlier this year resulted in Morrill being identified as a suspect, according to Union County Assistant Prosecutor Derek Nececkas, who is prosecuting the case. Last week, Prosecutor’s Office Detectives executing a search warrant at Morrill’s home on the 1800 block of Manor Drive in Union Township recovered the aforementioned digital files on a laptop found there, Nececkas said. 

Also seized during the execution of the search warrant were two dozen other electronic devices, including a tablet, desktop computers, laptops, and removable hard drives and other storage devices, all of which will be forensically examined as part of the continuing investigation.

Morrill has been employed by Columbia High School in Maplewood, New Jersey for nearly 25 years. The school has been notified of the arrest and charges.

A first appearance in the case has been scheduled to take place on the morning of Wednesday, June 19 in the second-floor courtroom of Union County Jail in Elizabeth. Anyone with information about Morrill’s activities is being urged to contact the Cyber Crime Task Force at 908-527-4500.

Convictions on charges of this nature are commonly punishable by 3 to 5 years in state prison. These criminal charges are mere accusations. Each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

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