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Press Release

Emory Doctor Goes to Prison for Downloading Thousands of Images of Child Pornography

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Georgia

ATLANTA - Kevin M. Sullivan has been sentenced to six years, six months in prison for downloading thousands of images of child pornography from a server in Switzerland. Sullivan, who was a professor in Emory University’s Epidemiology department, used the university’s Wi-Fi to access sites outside the country which provided access to child pornography.


“Sullivan downloaded thousands of files depicting the sexual abuse of children,” said U. S. Attorney John Horn. “He attempted to cover his tracks by using his personal computer on the Internet system at Emory to download the images. As predators continue to try to develop new methods to feed and download child pornography, we will continue to find them and prosecute them.”.


“Child pornography is one of the most heinous crimes HSI investigates due to the irrevocable harm it inflicts physically and emotionally upon innocent children,” said HSI Atlanta Special Agent in Charge Nick S. Annan. “Those who download these illegal images re-victimize innocent children who’ve already been subjected to unimaginable harm. ICE Homeland Security Investigations is committed to investigating and seeking prosecution of child exploitation cases as one the agency’s highest priorities.”


“This conviction illustrates the outstanding work of law enforcement around the world to investigate and prosecute child pornography cases,” said Vernon Keenan, Director, Georgia Bureau of Investigation. “The GBI will continue to dedicate resources to identify and bring to justice individuals who exploit children.”


According to U.S. Attorney Horn, the charges and other information presented in court: In October 2014, Swiss law enforcement seized a server that was hosting child pornography. Login information from the server showed that someone at Emory University Rollins School of Public Health was using Emory’s Wi-Fi to access child pornography. With cooperation from Emory University’s Information Technology Department, agents were able to determine that Dr. Kevin Sullivan was the person accessing child pornography from the Swiss website.


Dr. Sullivan was a professor in Emory University’s Epidemiology department. Agents obtained a search warrant for Dr. Sullivan’s office and executed it on June 15, 2015. Sullivan was present at the time, but left before agents found child pornography on his personal laptop and external hard drive. When agents went to his house later the same day to arrest him, they found Sullivan there at his home computer. A search of that computer revealed titles suggestive of child pornography, although the files themselves had been deleted. A search of the laptop and hard drive from his Emory office showed that Dr. Sullivan had more than 8,000 files containing child pornography.


Kevin M. Sullivan, 61, of Atlanta, Georgia, was sentenced to six years, six months in prison to be followed by seven years of supervised release, and ordered to pay a fine of $15,000. Sullivan was convicted on these charges on December 1, 2016, after he pleaded guilty.


This case was investigated by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.


Assistant United States Attorneys Paul R. Jones and Erin E. Sanders prosecuted the case.


This case is being brought as part of Project Safe Childhood. In February 2006, the Attorney General launched Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorney’s Offices around the country, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit


For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is

Updated March 1, 2017

Project Safe Childhood