Editor's Note: This article contains explicit detail regarding child pornography charges.
A former University of Arizona faculty member was arrested in Texas last month for possession of child pornography. The Dean of the UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, John Paul Jones III, addressed the news in an email sent out Friday night.
“We are shocked and greatly disturbed,” Jones wrote, “by the recent news that Dr. Mario Villarreal, former Associate Director of the Freedom Center (2015-2018) and former faculty member who taught Philosophy and PPEL courses at the University of Arizona, was recently arrested in Texas on charges of possession of child pornography.”
At the time of his arrest, Villarreal was a finance lecturer and the managing director of the Salem Center for Policy at the University of Texas at Austin.
“At this time, we do not have any additional information regarding this matter, and we have no reason to believe Dr. Villarreal engaged in any misconduct while he was here at the University of Arizona," Jones said. "We will continue to monitor the situation.”
Austin news outlet KXAN reported the following statement from a UT McCombs School of Business spokesperson:
“The University of Texas at Austin learned Friday, October 2, 2020, that the Criminal Investigations Division in the Office of the Texas Attorney General arrested an adjunct faculty member, Mario Villarreal, on charges related to child pornography. A managing director at the Salem Center for Policy at the McCombs School of Business, Villareal was immediately placed on investigation leave and removed from all teaching and administrative duties.”
According to KVUE ABC, the background check administered on Villarreal by UT Austin in 2019 “did not reveal any information related to prior criminal conduct or charges.”
Williamson County, Texas, jail records show that Villarreal was booked on five counts of child pornography, a third-degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. He was released Oct. 5 on $250,000 bond.
The Daily Texan, a student-run newspaper at UT Austin, obtained a copy Villarreal’s arrest affidavit. The Texan reported that Villarreal had been exchanging child pornography with a woman in Tennessee. Conversations between the two included one in which Villarreal discussed molesting a 3-year-old girl and another where he said he was at work masturbating, according to the affidavit.
Jones expressed his shock and disappointment with the news and urged troubled students, faculty and staff to seek out supportive resources.
“These very unfortunate and disturbing circumstances do not in any way reflect on the record of excellence of the Department of Political Economy and Moral Science, the Department of Philosophy, or the Center for the Philosophy of Freedom, nor on the University of Arizona or our values,” Jones said in the email. “We will continue to support you all as you move forward during these very challenging times.”
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