, University of Utah
Grant Smith, 47, is charged with viewing child pornography while on an airplane from Salt Lake City to Boston on Nov. 26, 2011. Smith is a professor of materials science and engineering at the University of Utah.

SALT LAKE CITY — Investigators suspect a University of Utah professor charged with viewing child pornography while flying on an airplane "is attracted" to young girls between 5 and 7 years old, a newly-released search warrant states.

Agents from the Internet Crimes Against Children task force went to the Murray apartment of Grant Smith, 47, on Jan. 12 and took two computer towers, two laptops, two hard drives, seven assorted external media storage devices, an MP3 player and 23 writable DVD/CDs, the warrant filed in 3rd District Court states.

The contents of Smith's Facebook account and information from his email accounts were also obtained.

Smith was on a flight from Salt Lake City to Boston Nov. 26 when at least two passengers told police they observed him allegedly viewing child pornography on his laptop. Smith gave authorities permission to search his computer and phone after landing in Boston.

Investigators found images of naked girls between 5 and 10 years old engaging in sexual activity with adult men, the warrant states. Smith allegedly told police he deleted some of the images while he was on the airplane "because he was 'bored.'"

Smith apparently obtained child pornography from a paid website and downloaded images of girls as young as 5 years old, the search warrant states. Investigators said they also found images on his cellphone of fully-clothed young girls that were taken from parks and airports.

"It appears that Smith is attracted to female children ages 5-7 based on the images they found on his iPhone and computer ..." the warrant states.

The night he was booked into jail, Smith called a 21-year-old woman, the warrant states. Smith asked Massachusetts State Police trooper Mike Murphy "if anything he said to his girlfriend could be used against him. Trooper Murphy said, 'yes,'" according to the warrant. Murphy expressed concern the woman would try to destroy evidence at his Murray home.

Smith's ex-wife told authorities Smith had moved out of their house 15 months before because he was having an affair, the search warrant states. She said he had become "very secretive" before he moved out.

The woman, however, said she never observed Smith download or view child pornography.

Smith has pleaded not guilty in Massachusetts to viewing child pornography.

Smith is a professor of materials science and engineering at the U. He was placed on administrative leave, and the school says it will permanently dismiss him if the allegations are proven to be true.

E-mail: hschwarz@desnews.com