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A former University of Utah professor who admitted to viewing child pornography on a flight to Boston will serve no jail time as long as he completes five years of probation, a judge ruled Thursday.

Grant Smith, 48, pleaded guilty Thursday to one count of possessing child pornography. The charge was filed in Massachusetts' East Boston District Court after his 2011 arrest.

Prosecutors said Smith was on a Delta flight from Salt Lake City to Boston on Nov. 6, 2011, when a passenger saw him viewing explicit child pornography on his laptop computer.

According to the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office, a search of Smith's computer uncovered multiple still images of young girls between the ages of 5 and 14 years old, some naked and some engaged in explicit sexual activity.

Smith told investigators he started deleting pornographic images on his computer during the flight because he was "bored," according to a search warrant filed in 3rd District Court.

On Thursday, a Boston judge sentenced Smith to 2 1/2 years in jail, but suspended the sentence in favor of five years probation in Utah, where he must register as a sex offender. He also was ordered to continue sex offender treatment and not have contact with any children under the age of 18 without supervision. The judge also ordered Smith to not use the internet unless required for employment.

Smith, considered one of the top professors in the world in the field of molecular engineering, was working at the U. at the time of his arrest, according to the search warrant.

Twitter: @jm_miller

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