Ex-Peoria Police Officer's Child Porn Conviction Reinstated

PEORIA, Ill. (AP) — The Illinois Supreme Court has reinstated a former Peoria police officer's child pornography conviction, finding that an appellate court erred when it ordered a new trial two years ago.

A jury convicted John McCavitt in 2016 of possession of child pornography based on evidence showing his home computer contained thousands of child porn images when police seized it in 2013 for a sexual assault investigation.

McCavitt was acquitted in 2014 on a sexual assault charge, but a police computer expert found the child porn during an internal investigation.

McCavitt argued that it was unlawful for Peoria police to use data collected during the initial investigation without obtaining another warrant. The 3rd District Appellate Court in Ottawa agreed in November 2019, finding that his civil rights were violated.

But in Thursday's decision, the justices held that McCavitt’s rights were not violated when an officer looked through computer files and found images of child porn without getting a new warrant, the Journal Star in Peoria reported.

The majority held that the post-acquittal search was allowable because it “was within the scope of the warrant" and was “reasonably directed at uncovering evidence of unauthorized video recording."

Justice P. Scott Neville Jr. dissented, writing in part that he felt Peoria police's secondary search was invalid and that the 243 days they held onto McCavitt’s hard drives was well past what was accepted as a reasonable amount of time.