The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office announced with a press release that — after a months-long investigation involving numerous federal and local agencies — detectives arrested Christopher Steven Haynes, a 64-year-old award-winning
lecturer who has taught geography courses at HSU for decades.
According to the sheriff’s office press release, the investigation began in June when a website company contacted the Department of Homeland Security to report that child pornography was being uploaded and viewed on a server hosted by the company. Through the investigation, authorities were able to locate I.P. addresses associated with the uploaded images and one of those addresses was allegedly tracked back to Haynes.
Investigators with the University Police Department, the sheriff’s office, the FBI and the Arcata Police Department served a search warrant on Haynes’ home in July and seized a computer, a thumb drive and a hard drive. A subsequent search of the devices by a Humboldt County District Attorney investigator allegedly located thousands of “child pornography pictures and videos,” according to the release.
Haynes was arrested at noon Friday without incident at his Arcata home, but posted $100,000 bail before the end of the day, according to Humboldt County jail staff. He was taken into custody on suspicion of possessing matter depicting a minor engaging or simulating sexual conduct; sending or duplicating sexual content involving a minor; exchanging or distributing content involving a matter depicting sexual content involving a minor and sexual exploitation of a child. Attempts to learn whether officials intend to prosecute Haynes federally or on the local level were not immediately successful.
According to HSU Associate Vice President of Advancement Frank Whitlatch, Haynes — an alum of the university — officially retired from HSU about five years ago but continued to teach a “limited number of classes on an annual contract basis.” Haynes taught a single class last semester — Spring of 2014 — and was listed on a tentative schedule to teach another class this semester. Whitlatch couldn’t say whether Haynes was dropped from this semester’s class schedule as a result of the criminal investigation, saying he’s “pretty constrained” by personnel rules. Whitlatch did add that tentative course schedules “often go through many changes” and that Haynes "does not have a current contract with HSU."
From nearly all accounts, Haynes was a popular teacher throughout his tenure at HSU. The website RateMyProfessor.com features 18 reviews of him, and he boasts high marks in all categories save for “easiness.” Most reviewers raved about his lectures, with one suggesting he “give teaching lessons to other profs.” A couple reviewers, however, left negative comments about Haynes’ personality. “Great teacher, but a real prick,” wrote one.
Students weren’t the only ones to take notice of Haynes lecturing abilities. In 2007, he was named the Outstanding Educator of the Year by the California Geographic Society — a prestigious award given annually to a single geography instructor teaching in kindergarten through the university level. One of the people who nominated him for the award deemed him the “Pied Piper of geography.”
Haynes has not been charged in the case and the investigation remains ongoing. The sheriff’s office asks that anyone with information come forward and call 445-7251 or the Crime Tip Line at 268-2539.
See the full sheriff’s office press release below, followed by a statement from HSU.
From the sheriff's office:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
On 06-05-2014 the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office was contacted by the United States Department of Homeland Security ( D.H.S.) regarding Child Pornography being uploaded. A Sheriff’s Office Detective was assigned to the case and worked with the D.H.S. Cybercrimes unit The D.H.S. Agents told the Detective they were contacted by a website company that saw images of Child Pornography being posted and viewed on a server the website hosted. They provided the name of the server to D.H.S. who reviewed it and the contents. The server company provided I.P. addresses that were tracked down to individuals. One of those addresses belonged to a Christopher Steven Haynes, 64 years old, from Arcata. The Sheriff Detective wrote a search warrant for Haynes residence and computer, which the detective served July 10, 2014 with the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Humboldt State University Police and Arcata Police. During the search of the residence, the detective located and seized Haynes computer, a thumb and hard drive which Haynes provided to the detective. A Humboldt County District Attorney Office investigator conducted a forensic examination on the computer, hard drive and thumb drive, which revealed thousands of Child Pornography pictures and videos.
The detective wrote and obtained a Humboldt County Superior Court arrest warrant for Haynes for possession of matter depicting a minor engaging or simulating sexual conduct, sending or duplicating sexual content involving a minor, exchanging or distributing content involving a matter depicting sexual content involving a minor and sexual exploitation of a child.
On 08-29-2104, at approximately 12:00 p.m. Sheriff’s Detectives drove to Haynes home and arrested him on the felony arrest warrant. He was transported to the Humboldt County Correctional Facility where his bail was set at $100,000.00.
Anyone with information for the Sheriffs Office regarding this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Sheriffs Office at 707-445-7251 or the Sheriffs Office Crime Tip line at 707-268-2539.
Humboldt State University police have been assisting the Department of Homeland Security and the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office with an investigation of Christopher Haynes, who was arrested today on charges related to child pornography. Haynes is a former geography instructor at HSU. The University will continue to cooperate with local and federal authorities as needed.
A Humboldt State University lecturer posted bail and was released from custody hours after his arrest on suspicion of possessing and distributing child pornography Friday.