LAKELAND, Fla. — Polk County deputies arrested a research institute director Thursday after executing a search warrant. 

During the search, deputies said Dr. Brian Birky, 61, was found with child porn images of victims in between the ages of 2 and 11 years old at his home.

Detectives were tipped off to Birky's IP address by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. 

Birky is listed as the Executive Director for Public and Environmental Health Research at the Florida Industrial and Phosphate Research Institute in Bartow on the research institute's website

He has since been placed on administrative leave, according to the Florida Polytechnic University.

The university provided the following statement:

"We have been in contact with law enforcement and will fully cooperate with them on this investigation. Dr. Birky is the Executive Director of the Florida Industrial Phosphate Research Institute in Bartow and has been placed on administrative leave."

 Sheriff Grady Judd said he taught nuclear engineering at the university and has a Ph.D. in health physics, along with being a consultant to an international agency during an afternoon press conference. 

"In addition to that, he uploads child pornography," Judd added. "We've seen language indicative of someone sharing child pornography or someone searching for child pornography." 

Detectives determined the child porn was on a computer or electronic storage device at Birky's home between Nov. 14, 2018, and Jan. 1, 2019, deputies said.

Birky faces nine counts of child porn, a third-degree felony, and a forensic investigation and examination are ongoing on several devices that were found at his home. 

"When you think of someone in a position of high responsibility, you don't think of someone who deals in child porn," Judd said. "But that's what he did. If you are uploading or downloading child porn, we will chase you to the ends of the earth to lock you up, and that's why Dr. Brian Birky is in the county jail with no bond tonight." 

He has been booked at the Polk County Jail and is being held without bond until his first appearance, deputies say.

"We appreciate the tips we receive regarding the distribution of child pornography. This allows our detectives to investigate those who trade, collect and distribute child porn," Sheriff Grady Judd said in a statement. "Those who download, view, and collect these terrible pictures and videos help create a market for these kinds of exploitative images that are dependent upon the continued sexual abuse of children. I appreciate the hard work our detectives do to locate and charge those in Polk County who download child pornographic images."

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