University researcher charged with distributing child pornography, bestiality

Wednesday, December 19, 2018 - 11:43am

Michael Zeidler, a Michigan Medicine research lab specialist, was charged with distributing child and bestiality pornography Tuesday.

Michael Zeidler, a Michigan Medicine research lab specialist, was charged with distributing child and bestiality pornography Tuesday. Buy this photo
Ruchita Iyer/Daily

Michael Zeidler, a Michigan Medicine research lab specialist, was charged in federal court Tuesday, Dec. 18 with distributing more than 600 videos and images of child and bestiality pornography. 

According to an FBI investigation, Zeidler allegedly viewed and shared images of young children being sexually abused, along with some videos involving children performing sexual acts on animals on his work computer at the University of Michigan. Zeidler's videos featured children as young as 2 or 3 years old.

Prior to his arrest, Zeidler had worked at the University of Michigan since 1999 with gene-edited mice and rats.

According to an interview with The Detroit News, Michigan Medicine spokesperson Mary Masson said Zeidler was not involved in patient care at the hospital.

Masson confirmed in an email that Zeidler is currently suspended and the University is working with law enforcement.

We have cooperated fully with law enforcement on this investigation and will continue to do so, Masson wrote. Zeidler was hired in August 1999 and is currently on suspension.

The criminal complaint explains the FBI investigation began back in November, but Zeidler's distribution of child pornography is believed to date back to at least 2012.

During the month of November 2018, an undercover detective downloaded over 400 images depicting child erotica, 187 child pornography images, and 51 child pornography videos from an Internet user who was distributing these files using a peer-to-peer network,” the criminal complaint reads.

In December, the FBI launched two simulataneous searches, one at Zeidler's lab at U-M and one at his private residence in Ann Arbor.

According to the court document, Zeidler, his wife and his two children, ages 6 and 8, were present during the search. At which time, Zeidler made several statements indicating his guilt.  During the house search, Zeidler even admitted he had taken videos of his childrens' play dates,” but said he had since deleted them.

In addition to viewing and distributing child pornography, Zeidler is accused of filming exchange students who lived in his home without their knowledge by hiding a camera in his bathroom. 

According to WXYZ Detroit, Zeidler is currently in jail. A hearing has been scheduled for Wednesday in federal court.

This is a developing story. Please check back at michigandaily.com for more updates.