GRCC worker pleads guilty to child porn possession, still on paid leave

Benjamin Gran of Auburn pleaded guilty in September to receiving and possessing child pornography based an investigation that began four years ago in the Netherlands.

His sentencing is in January.

Yet he's on paid administrative leave from his job as an information technology specialist at Green River Community College.

The college explained its position Nov. 21.

"The college is aware of the court proceedings and is taking action regarding the situation," said GRCC Spokeswoman Vickie Sheehan. "We've taken the necessary steps to protect the students and the College during the personnel matter.

"Because this is a personnel matter, we cannot provide more detail at this time," Sheehan added.

According to federal court documents, Gran participated in the now defunct forum for "boylovers," Two years ago federal agents found child pornography at his Auburn home.

The Amsterdam Police Department, the Dutch National Police and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security began "Operation Rescue" in 2009, in part to dismantle the online forum for its role in the transmission and dissemination of child pornography throughout the world.

The investigation that snagged Gran focused on a smaller network of 12 people within the forum, all of whom, according to charging papers, were personally involved in the sexual exploitation of children.

According to court papers, the network's principal figure, Robert Mikelsons, not only sexually assaulted at least 86 children he recorded many of the assaults on video, which he considered his "artwork."

Mikelson was later convicted of 67 child abuse charges. In April 2012 a judge in the Netherlands sentenced him to 19 years in prison.

According to court papers, Gran and Mikelson have been friends since 2004. Like Mikelson, charging papers say, Gran supported the movement to legitimize the sexual abuse of children.

A Seattle-based Homeland Security special agent told the court that Mikelsons, Gran and the other "boylovers" believe that molestation and rape are healthy for children, mainly pre-pubescent boys, 12 years old or younger.

"'BoyLovers' believe that this attraction is neither wrong nor harmful, believe that they have a partial obligation to educate young boys and others about the validity of their desires, and constantly reach out to other like-minded individuals for the validation and support of these beliefs. 'Boylovers' also believe they can carry on long, healthy relationships with young boys that can either include sexual relations or not," the Homeland Security agent told the court.

According to court papers, Gran and Mikelsons started talking about their shared interest in child pornography as early as 2004, via e-mail. In those e-mails, according to charging papers, Gran told Mikelson that when he was 11 or 12 years old, he "wish[ed] there was porno I could look at with people my age in it, instead of these hairy, wrinkled old things. ... But there wasn't any to be found, so instead of looking at porn, I had sex with kids my age."

According to charging papers, Gran also allegedly admitted to uploading to the forum child pornography that he had produced.

With a search warrant in hand, agents seized electronics, child pornography on a DVD and other items in the home from Gran's Auburn home in June 2011.

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