University professor arrested for sexual misconduct

Wednesday, August 12, 2015 - 5:09pm

A University professor was arrested Friday in Florida after attempting to elicit sex from a minor.

James Daniel Cavalcoli, an assistant professor of computational medicine and bioinformatics, was arrested by FBI agents with assistance from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and local Sheriff's deputies on Friday while attempting to meet with a 14-year-old boy.

The FBI’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force is also involved in the case.

Cavalcoli, under the impression he was meeting with the child’s father, made plans with an undercover agent of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which led to his arrest in Weston, Florida.

According to court documents acquired by The Michigan Daily, the FBI investigation began in November of 2013 when an agent created a profile on a social media site for men looking for sex. The fake FBI profile was from the perspective of a 55-year-old father with a 13-year-old son in Florida.

Cavalcoli, under the name “Jim,” responded to the posting: “A fellow bl [boy lover] just don't have my own. Wanted to chat and share stories and experiences - if you’re interested,” and provided his email address, according to court documents.

The two proceeded to communicate with one another and on November 25, 2013 Cavalcoli described to the agent actual sexual experiences he has had with boys. Cavalcoli told the agent he travels to Florida for work every year in early August.

According to court documents, using a different email address in December of 2013, Cavalcoli began to talk about his interest in child pornography. Months later, Cavalcoli asked for a picture of the man and his son.

The agent on May 23, 2014 sent an image appearing to be of a father and son at soccer practice. The image actually was of two adult male Florida law enforcement officers who consented to the photo being sent to Cavalcoli.

According to court documents, Cavalcoli responded with three explicit photos of himself.

In June of 2014, the FBI subpoenaed Yahoo for information relating to the original email address used. With the IP address from the Yahoo subpoena, the FBI subpoenaed Comcast and on July 16, 2014 Comcast sent information to the FBI confirming James Cavalcoli as the resident of the address.

Comparing Cavalcoli’s Michigan Driver's License photo to the one posted on the website, the FBI was able to confirm his identity. Agents were able to reaffirm his identity by comparing the picture from the website to a photo listed on a University website.

On July 19, 2015 Cavalcoli posted on the social media site he would be in Florida in three weeks and emailed the undercover agent on July 25, 2015 asking if he and his son would like to meet up. Two days later the agent agreed.

Several emails were sent between the two, according to court documents, including one where Cavalcoli provided his cell phone number which matched the one from the Comcast subpoena.

On August 6, Cavalcoli emailed the agent: “thanks for organizing. I'm excited and nervous. Can you do me a favor and reassure me you aren't police or FBI afflliated. lt would also be good to meet you before going to your room ok? I know this sounds strange, this is my first time meeting. So just nervous and cautious, ok??”

Court documents say the agent responded: “....no pressure if you don't feel right then if ok not to come.”

The following day Cavalcoli went to a Florida hotel to meet with the agent posing as the father and son. He was arrested on his way into the hotel.

Court documents state: “CAVALCOLI admitted that he was “Jim'' on the social networking site and that he had been communicating with an adult male who had a 14 year old son named Dormie. He admitted that he had arranged to meet at this hotel to engage in sexual activity with the minor son.”

Cavalcoli told officers the trip was partly for work and also to meet up with the boy and his father. He also admitted to sending explicit photos and stated he regretted coming.

Several electronic devices were taken from Cavalcoli by police officers — including his laptop — to assist in their investigation. Police say the laptop is undergoing forensic examination, according to WXYZ.

Mary Masson, a University Health System spokesperson, told the Daily the University intends to work with law enforcement throughout the investigation of this case.

"Mr. Cavalcoli has worked for the University for about 13 years. We are currently reviewing the matter and will cooperate fully with law enforcement investigators,” Masson said.

At the University, Cavalcoli’s areas of research included the herpes viruses, molecular biology and genetic sequencing.

As of Monday night, his biography was removed from the University’s Department for Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics faculty list.

His personal research page for the Program of Biomedical Sciences says Cavalcoli gave a biologists perspective to computer scientists writing software for the National Center for Integrative Biomedical Informatics.

This is a developing story. Stay with The Michigan Daily for updates.