GREAT FALLS — William Daly Harrington, the former East Helena chief of police, made his initial appearance in court on Tuesday on a criminal complaint accusing him of distributing child pornography, Acting U.S. Attorney Leif M. Johnson said in a news release.
The criminal complaint alleges that Harrington, 42 years old, distributed child pornography.
According to the criminal complaint and affidavit, in September 2020, a law enforcement officer began investigating a Cybertip to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s CyberTipline, a national reporting system for the online exploitation of children.
The court documents state that the investigation led to a Facebook account that used a fictitious name and was allegedly created and controlled by Harrington, who was the East Helena chief of police. The documents allege that Harrington distributed child pornography to the Facebook account of another person on numerous occasions.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Kathleen L. DeSoto presided. Harrington was detained pending further proceedings. Harrington voluntarily surrendered and was taken into custody by the FBI.
Harrington resigned as police chief in early March, and city documents indicate it came after he was accused of sexual assault. Harrington had worked for the East Helena Police Department for more than a decade, and was named chief in 2019. He had also served as acting chief after each of his two predecessors left the department.
If convicted of the child pornography charge, Harrington could face up to five to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and five years to life of supervised release. The news release notes that the criminal complaint is only an accusation, and Harrington is presumed to be legally innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The FBI, Lewis & Clark County Sheriff’s Office, Bozeman Police Department, and Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force investigated the case.