Former Wheaton College professor pleads guilty to child pornography charges

Published: Monday, Aug. 5, 2013 4:34 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013 12:38 a.m. CDT

A former Wheaton College Christian education professor and children's spirituality author pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated child pornography Aug. 5.

Donald Ratcliff, 61, of Carol Stream, was charged with seven counts of child pornography after a Carol Stream police investigation identified that his IP address had downloaded pornographic images of children.

Upon seizure of computers at his residence in March 2012, police found at least 500 pornographic images, the subjects of which appeared to be younger than 13-years-old in some cases, according to Assistant DuPage County State's Attorney Louisa Nuckolls.

Ratcliff pleaded guilty to one count and could face up to seven years in prison after his Oct. 9 sentencing. The remaining six child pornography charges and three other felony counts were dropped as part of a blind plea.

Nuckolls said that Ratcliff was in and out of therapy before his arrest and that he admitted to downloading child pornography every few weeks in a cycle.

"He said he 'had a problem, but that he didn't feel like he had an addiction to it,'" Nuckolls said.

Ratcliff taught at Wheaton College at the time of his arrest. He has written 10 books about children's spirituality during his career.

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