SAN LUIS OBISPO — The FBI is investigating allegations that Cal Poly San Luis Obispo administrators may have obstructed justice in a child pornography case involving a former department chairman.
Ed Miller, supervising agent of the Santa Maria FBI office, confirmed that the department was asked by the U.S. attorney's office to investigate whether criminal obstruction occurred in the case involving Safwat Moustafa.
Moustafa, 63, of Grover Beach, Calif., and a former professor and chairman of the mechanical engineering department, is facing two felony charges of possessing child pornography on his university-issued computer.
He was arrested in September and pleaded not guilty to the charges in federal court in Los Angeles.
He faces a federal trial in May and is free on $200,000 bail. Moustafa resigned from the university in August 2001.
Miller would not comment on the specifics of the investigation.
But officials said the investigation focuses on the university's actions after images of child pornography allegedly were found on Moustafa's laptop by a technician in February 2001.
Administrators ordered the technician to copy the hard drive and return the laptop to Moustafa. It wasn't until the technician reported the case to law enforcement, however, that a criminal investigation began.
In a statement released this week, Cal Poly said, "We are unaware of any misconduct by Cal Poly officials."
The university also said it is committed to cooperating with law enforcement.
The delay in reporting the case has sparked controversy on campus and in San Luis Obispo.
Cal Poly conceded after Moustafa's arrest on Sept. 23, "In retrospect, we acknowledge that it might have been better to ask for assistance from law enforcement at an early stage of assessment."