Federal Search Warrant States Sunspot Solar Observatory Closed for Child Pornography

Sunspot Solar Observatory.  (Image credit: National Solar Observatory/NSF)

Sunspot Solar Observatory. (Image credit: National Solar Observatory/NSF)

A federal search warrant filed for a janitor employed at the Sunspot Solar Observatory states that federal agents have been investigating the site for child pornography since last July, when they found child porn linked to an IP address at the observatory, reported KRQE News yesterday.

The FBI spoke to Sunspot’s chief observer in August, who said he had found a laptop running in several empty offices over the last few months. He told federal agents that what he found on the laptop was "not good," and that it appeared to be child pornography.

According to the search warrant, federal agents monitored the observatory's IP addresses, and were able to find the exact time the child porn was being sent. A limited number of people have access to the site between dusk and dawn, when the illicit material was being downloaded, which helped the agents narrow their suspects down to the janitor.

According to the chief, as soon as the janitor realized his computer was missing, he "feverishly started looking through the facility," and commented on the "lax security at the facility."

Once the janitor started saying that it was "only a matter of time before the facility got hit," and that he "believed there was a serial killer in the area" who might enter the facility and murder someone, the decision was made to close the observatory out of safety concerns.

Federal agents have seized the suspect's cell phone, laptops, SD cards and thumb-drives.

The janitor has so far not been named, since he has yet to be charged; but the observatory’s contract with the cleaning company who employed the janitor, which happens to be owned by his parents, has been terminated.

Speculation has run rampant since the observatory’s closure, with conspiracy theories ranging from a UFO or alien contact cover-up to an imminent, massively destructive coronal event being kept from the public. Another theory speculated that an employee could have been involved in spying on one of the nearby military testing sites.

Whether or not this most recent revelation resolves these theories or is disregarded as a cover-up remains to be seen.

Tobias Wayland