Hilliard Northwest News

Former music booster

Blackhall sentenced to one year in jail


Former Hilliard music booster William F. Blackhall, 51, is serving one year in a California jail for felony possession of child pornography.

Blackhall entered a guilty plea to the charge June 14 in the Superior Court of California and was sentenced the same day to 12 months in an Orange County jail, said Vanessa Woods, a deputy district attorney for Orange County.

As ThisWeekNEWS.com first reported locally, Newport Beach police arrested Blackhall, then 50, on July 25, 2012, according to the Orange County Sheriff's Office, for "possession (or) control of materials concerning a child under age 14."

Investigators said they discovered more than 1,000 pictures, images and videos of young boys engaged in sexual conduct with other young boys on a computer Blackhall brought with him on a business trip, according to court officials. A co-worker alerted authorities about the content.

Blackhall, a Columbus resident who lives in the Hilliard school district, was released on a $20,000 bond but was not formally charged by the Orange County District Attorney's Office until the last week of August.

He was arraigned Sept. 10 and initially pleaded not guilty.

While Blackhall was in California on a business trip, a co-worker told authorities Blackhall had child pornography on a computer he had brought with him, court officials allege.

After several pretrial hearings, Blackhall switched his plea.

"It was a negotiated settlement (and) and an agreed disposition," Woods said.

Woods said Blackhall's attorney, Mark McBride, and Orange County attorneys negotiated a plea and sentencing that was presented to Judge Carlton Biggs, who agreed to the terms.

McBride could not be reached for comment.

The maximum penalty was three years in state prison.

In addition the 12-month jail term, Blackhall will be placed on probation for three years upon his release and will be required to register as a sexual offender, Woods said.

Because California law, unlike Ohio law, does not differentiate sexual offenders, it is unclear how Ohio law would apply to Blackhall should he return to his Columbus residence.

Prior to his arrest, Blackhall was vice president of the Hilliard Music Boosters, representing Hilliard Darby High School.

District spokeswoman Amanda Morris said Blackhall's volunteer status -- which requires a background check, according to the district's volunteer policy -- was revoked Aug. 2, the same day district officials were informed of his arrest in California.