Framingham State senior arrested on child pornography charges: Student allegedly posted explicit messages in chatroom

Courtesy of Framingham Police

FSU senior criminal justice major Rufus Rushins, 23, has been charged with the possession of child pornography, according to a Sept. 18 report submitted to the Framingham Juvenile Court.

Framingham Police arrested Rushins Sept. 20 at 9 p.m. at FSU, according to prosecutor Francesca Cone. Rushins’ arraignment took place Sept. 23 at the Framingham District Court.

A Sept. 20 supplement report from the Framingham Police Department states Det. Sgt. Tyson E. Mohr, who submitted the application for criminal complaint, was informed by Det. Sgt. Robert Sibilio “about an Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) alert involving an internet user making reference to a rape of a child.”

ICAC, according to its website, “is a national network of 61 coordinated task forces representing over 4,500 federal, state, and local law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies.

“These agencies are continually engaged in proactive and reactive investigations and prosecutions of persons involved in child abuse and exploitation involving the internet,” it states.

The particular alert from ICAC sent to Sibilio refers to an alleged post from Rushins. It stated the “individual describes molesting [a] friend’s 5-year-old niece when babysitting and mentions they will do it again when babysitting the same girl next,” according to the supplement report.

It was posted on the gamer-focused text and chat app Discord Sept. 18, using the tag “rufdog14#9426.” 

The report includes a string of messages posted between Sept. 15 and Sept. 18. Rushins allegedly interacted with other users in a “pedi room,” which Mohr stated he “understood to mean a chat room specific to pedophiles.”

Other messages from the tag include admission to having past childhood sexual encounters with a family member and plans to have sexual encounters with his future daughter. 

In a Sept. 18 interview with Rushins, Mohr and Det. Sean Wilson presented evidence linking Rushins to the Discord messages, according to the report. 

“When given a transcript of the messages in question, Rushins was obstinate that he would never post anything like that even in jest,” Mohr stated in the report. “When asked, Rushins state[d] and was adamant that he has never, nor does he currently babysit for any child as he is a full-time student who lives on campus, nor does he have a niece.”

According to the report, one of the personal email addresses Rushins provided to police, rufdog1996@gmail.com, was associated with the Discord tag used to post the aforementioned messages. 

Additionally, the IP address used to post the messages traces back to FSU, according to the ICAC alert. Mohr stated in the report, “I was able to confirm thru [sic] the FSU IT department that said IP address comes back to the general FSU WiFi network.”

Mohr stated in the report, “When [confronted] with this information, Rushins admitted that he did in fact post the messages in question and added that there was no validity to them and that he was just ‘talking s***’ and being ‘edgy.’” 

Rushins is also reported by Mohr to have said “he was trying to shock people” when he was asked about the “specific reason for why he posted these things.”

In the report, Rushins “concede[d] that he has a lot of ‘porn’ on his phone,” referring to it as “loli porn.” In Japanese animation, “loli” is a colloquial shortening of “lolita,” a genre centered on young-looking girls, often portrayed in sexually suggestive situations.

“He added that there were also CGI cartoons of a sexual nature depicting children, which he described as being a little older than 5,” Mohr states.

According to the report, Rushins’ cell phone was “seized pending the issuance of a search warrant.” He also “voluntarily” gave Framingham City Police his school-issued laptop.

Following Framingham Police’s procurement of a search warrant “based on an investigation of a National Center for Missing and Exploited Children cybertip,” Det. Sean O’Hare searched the contents of Rushins’ cell phone.

Another Sept. 20 supplement report states that on the phone, there was a video of a young child who “appeared to [be] between the ages of 3 [and] 5” performing a sexual act on a man.

“Based on my training and experience conducting child pornography investigations, I believe … this video to constitute child pornography,” O’Hare wrote.

Cone asked Judge Jennifer Stark to order Rushins not to use any electronic devices. His lawyer, Todd Segal, requested Rushins be allowed to possess a phone without Internet access, to which Stark agreed. 

The terms also barred Rushins from having contact with minors aged 16 and younger. 

He was released on $750 bail following agreement per these orders. He is due back in court Nov. 5 for a pretrial conference.

Rushins was a full-time resident student in North Hall, as well as a fullback for the Rams football team. He has since been taken off the football roster on fsurams.com.

Thomas Kelley, football coach and Athletics director, declined to comment. 

Rushins has also been placed on interim suspension and is not allowed on campus pending the results of the criminal case, according to Dan Magazu, FSU director of communications. This is per University policy, according to FSU President F. Javier Cevallos.

Rushins informed the Dean of Students Office Sept. 23 he would be taking a leave of absence from the University, according to Magazu. 

Meg Nowak Borrego, dean of students, declined to comment.

Although The Gatepost requested further materials from Framingham Police, the request was denied by the department “on the grounds that providing the requested records would violate the Criminal Offender Record Information Act (CORI).”

Patrick Laughran, FSU’s chief information officer, said the University “does not monitor the content of what students access or share from the campus network. 

“However, some basic information such as what is referred to as “log files” are used to capture and record activity on the campus network,” he said. “Each device that connects to the campus network is able to be identified using this information in order for the University to provide authorized users of network services with access to a secure and reliable network that performs well.”

Laughran added every device that connects to the campus network becomes part of a “complex ecosystem of components” that makes “seamless” internet connection possible.

“Since everything is interconnected through the campus network, including student devices, any one component has the potential to create problems for everyone else and everything else that is connected,” he said. 

“This is why log file information must be gathered,” Laughran added.

Browsing histories are maintained locally on individual users’ computers, but every particular login instance creates a unique address assigned to a device in order to send and receive specific data, according to Laughran.

Cevallos announced Rushins’ arrest at the Sept. 25 Board of Trustees meeting. “Reports of a student being arrested was in the [local] newspaper.”

He added, “We will wait for the outcome [of the criminal trial] before we do anything related to that student.”

As of publication time, there has been no formal communication from the University regarding Rushins’ arrest and impending trial. 

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