Judge rejects former U.Va. professor’s plea deal in child porn case

Walter Korte charged with possession of child pornography

ns-kortemugshot-CourtesyAlbermarlePoliceDepartment

The 73-year-old’s plea was rejected by the presiding Judge Cheryl Higgins who then recused herself from the case. 

Courtesy Albermarle Police Department

Former University Prof. Walter Korte appeared in Albemarle County Circuit Court Tuesday to enter into a plea agreement for two felony counts of possession of child pornography. Judge Cheryl Higgins rejected the 73-year-old’s plea, however, and then recused herself from the case. 

It is unclear why the plea deal was rejected, and the Albemarle County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office did not return a request for comment by press time. 

According to the publicly-available case record, University Police Department received a call in July 2016 about pornographic images found in a dumpster near Korte’s Bryan Hall office on Cabell Drive. 

Korte was arrested and charged on Aug. 2 of last year. Korte had no prior criminal record at that time. 

Possession of child pornography is a Class Six felony in Virginia. This means that according to the Virginia sentencing guidelines, he may face jail time, a fine or both if he is convicted during a jury trial. 

“For Class 6 felonies, a term of imprisonment of not less than one year nor more than five years, or in the discretion of the jury or the court trying the case without a jury, confinement in jail for not more than 12 months and a fine of not more than $2,500, either or both,” the guidelines state. 

Korte was a longtime professor of film studies at the University. He had been the drama department’s director of film studies since 1970 and taught classes including “Cinema as an Art Form” and “History of Film.” 

Korte is currently free on bond and his next appearance in court is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Dec. 4. 

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