Students react: Math instructor arrested for possession of child pornography
Six days after he was first questioned by police, Brian Siebenaler, an instructor of mathematical sciences, was arrested on 36 preliminary charges — 22 counts of possession of child pornography and 14 counts of child exploitation.
The arrest came upon conclusion of an investigation assisted by the Indiana State Police Cyber Crime Unit, according to a press release.
University Police Department Chief Jim Duckham said in the press release the investigation started when "a routine review of information security alerted administration that a campus computer was accessing a site with suspicious content."
Siebenaler was barred from campus May 7 and was not currently teaching any classes, according to the press release.
His former students reacted in different ways to the news — some said they were shocked, some were angry and some weren't surprised.
Grace Kelly just graduated from Ball State with degree in sociology. She said she had Siebenaler her junior year for Math 125. She said she never would have expected these charges against him.
"I thought he was a really, really good teacher. There was nothing weird about him. He was always willing to help me," Kelly said. "I was very shocked. ... I was looking at the article and I was like, 'Oh my God, he was my teacher,' ... but in class, nothing ever seemed weird."
Grant King, a junior studying construction management, said he wasn't really surprised.
"He was just weird. Something was weird about him, and now I know what," King said. "I had him last year for algebra II, only for a couple months though. I withdrew from the course because I knew I could have done better with a different professor."
Morgan Byasee, a recent graduate in criminal justice, said she had Siebenaler in spring of 2014. She said the instructor seemed very religious.
"He would bring a bible with him to class every single day in his briefcase," Byasee said. "In his office, there were a bunch of crosses. ... Now that just kind of seems messed up I guess."
Malik Ojuri, a senior professional selling major, said in class, Siebenaler seemed like there was always something different about him.
"He was one of those professors who was just going through the motions, was disconnected with the class," Ojuri said. "There was something about him that, I don't know ... it was hard for him to find a comfortable personal connection [with students]."
While he seemed different, Ojuri didn't fault him for this while he was his student calculus.
"I don't think that's bad that he was different, some people just are," Ojuri said. "He had a passion for math, and he obviously enjoyed teaching. But the fact that he did this, ... I was surprised. I was disgusted."
After the arrest of his instructor and the recent arrest of Randal Ray Schmidt, a former maintenance employee at Ball State, just last month, Ojuri said he is questioning the university's hiring process.
"Where are they getting some of these people? How extensive is the background check? This is supposed to be a Ball State professor, somebody who should be trusted, and trusted to be alone with students," he said. "When we leave, that's what we want to remember, that we were being taught by people who succeeded in their fields, ... not someone like this. If you're working in education, you want to be a role model, led by example. This is the worst kind of example, and that's what really bothers me."
Brannon Muncey, a senior computer science major, said he had Siebenaler in class one year ago. He said he had thought of his instructor as any other math teacher.
"I just thought he was a math teacher, honestly," Muncey said. "He was a little different, but nothing out of the usual. Just an older guy who taught math."
The class was large-lecture style and Siebenaler's teaching style was "hands-off," Muncey said. A normal class, aside from the seating chart college students don't typically have.
"A lot of people have taken his classes, I mean they're pretty big," he said. "You just don't think about that, somebody teaching and doing stuff like that. It's just strange."
Siebenaler was using a computer on the first floor of the Robert Bell building. Most Ball State computers' information and files are removed after a user logs out. As a computer science student, Muncey said he thinks the instructor had a plan and an incentive for his crimes.
"He had to be kind of smart. He knew his [computer] history was being deleted, it was wiping them clean," he said. "So you don't know how long he's been doing that, ... using the school's internet for that. But on the other side, the law side, they had the system in place to catch him. As a computer science major, I think that's pretty cool."