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Del. Supreme Court overturns Wheeler child pornography conviction

Tom Byrne/Delaware Public Media

The former headmaster at the Tower Hill School has won his battle to overturn his child pornography conviction.

The Delaware Supreme Court ruled in Christopher Wheeler’s favor Wednesday, throwing out his December 2014 conviction on 25 counts of dealing in child pornography.

In his appeal, Wheeler’s attorney argued that authorities used possible witness tampering as a pretext to obtain warrants to search Wheeler's computers for child pornography, violating his constitutional protections from unreasonable searches and seizures.

In the 44-page opinion written by Justice Karen Valihura, she wrote, “The subject of this prosecution is an unsympathetic figure. And the sexual exploitation of children is a dreadful scourge in our society.”

But she quotes other legal opinions regarding the Fourth Amendment saying that guardians of the Constitution can’t let the ends justify the means.

A 2013 Child Predator Task Force investigation turned up multiple images of child pornography on computers and other digital media at Wheeler’s school owned home and office.

Wheeler received a 50-year sentence after being found guilty by a judge. He had waived his right to a jury trial after that judge denied a defense motion to suppress evidence seized by police.

Tom Byrne has been a fixture covering news in Delaware for three decades. He joined Delaware Public Media in 2010 as our first news director and has guided the news team ever since. When he's not covering the news, he can be found reading history or pursuing his love of all things athletic.
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