Defense attorneys Robert Glasgow and Shay Isham, who are representing Thomas Dougherty, 44, called their final witnesses Wednesday in the former professor’s trial, which began Monday in the 266th Judicial District Court.
Dougherty, who holds a specialization in child psychology, was terminated from Tarleton State University in 2008 following allegations that he possessed child pornography on his office computer.
He was indicted in March 2008 and a second indictment was handed down by an Erath County grand jury in June 2009 after additional images were found on a university-issued laptop computer.
First to take the stand in the third day of testimony was Tarleton employee Dr. Bob Newby. He said he was a psychology department head until Dec. 2007 and was Dougherty’s supervisor.
While Newby said Dougherty was a “good professor and good teacher,” who students “gave good marks,” he also said he did have a couple of issues with the former professor’s performance. Newby said Dougherty would leave the building and never close his office door. He also said Dougherty was easily distracted from completing research projects.
Dougherty also took the stand and testified that he came to Tarleton in 1998, gained his tenure while at the university, earned a number of awards and recognitions and also served on the Faculty Senate.
He also testified he had access to five university computers and possessed several home computers, but only his office computer and one of the university-issued laptops contained the pornographic images.
Special Prosecutor Von Bunn later explained Dougherty’s home computers were never examined by a computer forensics expert.
Dougherty said he began an investigation into Lime Wire, a media sharing application, in October 2006 after he became aware his teenage sons were using the Internet-based program. He said he wanted to know what caused the computers in his home to crash and told his children to avoid the program until he could determine if it was safe.
But information presented by Bunn during rebuttal showed that additional images were found in April 2008 that dated back to 2002.
Dougherty said in November 2007, he logged on to Lime Wire from his office and searched for videos of “teen music.” He said the search returned a “weird title name,” which he clicked on but stopped the download before it was complete.
Then on Dec. 6, 2007 he decided to investigate Lime Wire again and search for “teen.” He said he came across the name of a magazine. He then searched Lime Wire for files related to the magazine’s name, and got a list of video files. He said he selected all the files to download. He stopped the download when he left for home that evening.
He said he initiated the download again on Dec. 7, 2007, which was the same day a graduate student discovered the images.
Dougherty said he never viewed the videos and had no idea what was being downloaded. On cross-examination Bunn pointed to the long and explicit file names which seemed to refer to child pornography.
Upon questioning by Glasgow, Dougherty described his interview with Lt. Randy Dolloff and Chief Justin Williams with the Tarleton Police Department. He said when he met with the police officers at the university on Dec. 9, 2007, he was told prior to the formal interview that he was being investigated for possessing the pornographic images of children, suspected to be 10 or 11 years old.
He said the police officers told him what to include in his statement, and also said 80 percent of the content was their words and not his. He said they were standing over his shoulder and telling him what to type in his written statement and also told him to delete certain portions of his confession.
“The majority of the time they told me what to type,” Dougherty said to Bunn during cross-examination.
During rebuttal, Williams said details of the investigation had not been discussed with Dougherty prior to the recorded interview. Williams also said during the time of the interview he was sitting at his desk with Dolloff and Dougherty on the opposite side of the desk, facing each other.
During questioning, Dougherty said he saw the videos for the first time in his attorney’s office. He said at the viewing he was “appalled” by the images and continued to look away from the video despite Glasgow telling him he had to watch.
He said he would never look at or intentionally download the images.
“As God is my witness, I would not,” Dougherty said.
Glasgow read from the two indictments against his client and asked him if he would, as the indictments allege, “intentionally or knowingly” possess the images. He answered “no” to each of the nine indicted counts of possession of child pornography.
On cross-examination, Dougherty told Bunn he did not admit to polygraph examiner Robert Wood that he had viewed the files. He said when speaking with Wood in February 2008 he was still under redress from his interview with the police months earlier and confused.
He also explained his actions at his termination appeal hearing at the university. According to Bunn, he told the panel he did not abort the downloads when he saw the obviously “shocking” titles because he wanted to be certain of their content. He told Bunn just because the titles appeared to be child pornography, that didn’t mean they were.
Bunn said Dougherty admitted at the appeal hearing that he “messed up” by talking to the police. She said Dougherty told the panel Glasgow told him if he would have said nothing, none of the subsequent events would have occurred.
While Dougherty’s defense maintains he had never accessed child pornography and only downloaded the images on Dec. 7, 2007, the state recalled computer forensics expert, Sgt. Les St. James, who obtained evidence that might refute that claim. St. James presented evidence that showed somebody using Dougherty’s user name and password had accessed and searched for inappropriate Web sites and images in 2002 and 2005.
Bunn also presented evidence that St. James located on the office and laptop computers that showed searches for teenage lolitas in June 2006.
Search logs from the laptop also showed searches for the magazine which the defendant said he only became aware of in December 2007. St. James said the magazine title was searched in November 2006, as was “lolita underage nude preteen.”
The defense argued that the images could have been put on the devices’ hard drives by anyone with access to Dougherty’s username and password. Testimony Tuesday showed a number of students and research assistants had access to the login information. But, according to a number of witnesses, the laptop was kept in the Dougherty home in November 2006. According to Dougherty’s teenage sons, the laptop was only used by them and their friends.
Williams was the last to be called to testify as the state’s rebuttal witness. He denied the allegations that the defendant’s statement had been coached or coerced.
In cross-examination, Glasgow asked Williams if he had reviewed the transcript from Dougherty’s Dec. 9, 2007 interview. Williams said he had not. Glasgow presented a copy of the transcript, which Bunn said was not a verified transcript and contained errors and possible omissions.
To help him recall the events from more than three years ago, Williams was asked to review the recorded interview on his own time Wednesday evening to prepare for questioning by Glasgow.
The trial will resume today at 9 a.m., when Williams is expected to again take the stand.