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UVa neurologist pleads guilty to child pornography charges

A neurologist associated with the University of Virginia pleaded guilty Tuesday to two child pornography-related charges.

Dr. David A. Lapides, 37, has been held at Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail since his July arrest.

Appearing via video Tuesday in Charlottesville Circuit Court, Lapides sat impassively as he answered questions related to his plea. Apart from a brief aside to his attorney, the proceeding was standard for a plea hearing with Lapides acknowledging that he was waiving his right to a trial.

According to an overview of the evidence presented by Charlottesville Commonwealth’s Attorney Joe Platania, the investigation into Lapides’ crimes began in April after the Kik messaging application notified authorities about two videos the platform detected that were believed to contain depictions of sexually exploited minors.

The case was eventually referred to the Internet Crimes Against Children Taskforce of the Albemarle County Police Department which worked with the Charlottesville Police Department due to the jurisdiction, Platania said.

“This is only an overview of the evidence and a presentation at trial would have gone into greater detail about how the investigation was conducted and would have included more technical evidence,” Platania said.

A subpoena of the IP address associated with the Kik account was discovered to belong to Lapides. After determining the Wi-Fi network used was secured and not accessible by outside actors, the police confronted Lapides in July.

“Though this would not have been admissible at trial, officers said that after Lapides was shown the username for the Kik account he froze and asked to speak to an attorney,” Platania said.

In chat groups such as the one Lapides is believed to have participated in, it is common for members to send videos in order to receive more, Platania said. The two videos Lapides is accused of distributing depicted pre-pubescent girls engaged in sexually exploitive positions, he said, which the commonwealth believes meets the statutory standard.

Lapides pleaded guilty Tuesday to two felony charges of possession, reproduction, distribution, solicitation and facilitation of child pornography. The charges each carry a maximum prison term of 20 years.

Per the plea agreement, the second charge was amended to be a first offense, removing a five year mandatory minimum sentence.

Following the hearing Tuesday, UVa spokesperson Eric Swensen said the university is reviewing Lapides’ employment status.

“Since UVa first learned of these very serious charges, he has been on unpaid administrative leave,” Swensen said.

Lapides will remain at the jail as he awaits sentencing on May 17 in Charlottesville Circuit Court.


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