PITTSBORO — Charles Hitlin, former head of information technology at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Gillings School of Public Health, has been charged in Orange County with second-degree sexual exploitation of a minor.
Hitlin, 42, of Old Oaks Lane in Pittsboro, was charged Monday and released Tuesday on a $250,000 bond pending an appearance Wednesday in court in Hillsborough.
Hitlin and his wife, Amy, 44, were the focus of an investigation in November into what search warrants obtained by university police said was suspected child pornography offenses and other crimes involving minors.
No charges about pornography were filed at the time, though Hitlin was arrested on a felony charge of possession of a firearm on campus after police found a loaded 9 mm handgun in his office.
Police searched Amy Hitlin’s offices at the university, too, but filed no charges against her. She is an assistant senior director of career services in the school’s University Career Services department.
UNC police and the FBI began an investigation after a Morrisville police officer working with a child pornography task force, chatted online with someone using an Internet address that was traced back to Hitlin.
At the time, the Hitlins’ attorney, Meredith Nicholson of Durham, emailed a statement that said the Hitlins were confident the investigation would find no illegal material.
“Mr. Hitlin is not a predator, not a pedophile, and not a pornographer,” the Hitlins said in the statement. “He is not a danger to his community. He is a good and decent man who has found himself subject to the far-reaching arm of a government which persists in spying on the web communications of its citizens.”