WHEATON – A former Wheaton College employee has been sentenced to four years in prison after pleading guilty to possession of child pornography.
Benjamin Felker, 30, of the 1000 block of Briarbrook Drive, Wheaton, entered his plea May 15 in front of Judge Robert Miller, who handed down the sentence, according to a news release from the DuPage County State's Attorney's Office. Felker is a former lab associate for the Wheaton College Geology Department.
Through the course of their continuing efforts combating child pornography, investigators from the Wheaton Police Department were able to identify Felker’s residence as one possibly engaging in child pornography, the release stated. Based upon this information, detectives obtained a search warrant for Felker’s home that was executed in September 2016, according to the release.
At Felker’s residence, detectives found dozens of videos and about 1,500 images depicting child pornography, the release stated. Felker, who was at home during the search, was immediately taken into custody without incident. On Oct. 3, 2016, Felker posted bail of $4,000 and was released from custody.
“This morning, Benjamin Felker admitted he possessed more than 1,500 images and dozens of videos of child pornography,” DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin said in the release. “Each one of these disgusting images represents yet another victim of child pornography. Today’s sentence sends the message that my office will aggressively pursue child pornographers. I would like to stress once again that these charges are in no way connected with Mr. Felker’s association with Wheaton College. Authorities at the college have been very cooperative throughout this entire case and for that I thank them."
At the time of Felker's arrest, Wheaton College President Philip Ryken released a statement that Wheaton College was "disturbed to learn of these troubling charges."
“As a Christian community, Wheaton College fundamentally opposes the production and use of pornography, especially child pornography, which by its very nature exploits and victimizes the most vulnerable," Ryken had said in the statement.
Following his arrest, Felker was placed on unpaid leave and banned from the campus.
Felker will be required to serve 50 percent of his sentence before being eligible for parole, according to the release. He also will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.