Former Hettinger doctor charged with possession of child pornography

A former Hettinger doctor was arrested Thursday on charges of child pornography in Grand Forks, according to police.


By COLE BENZ | Herald Editor |

A former Hettinger doctor was arrested Thursday on charges of child pornography in Grand Forks, according to police.

Robert William Beattie, 55, was arrested by the Grand Forks Police Department after police discovered evidence that linked him to an IP address allegedly being used to possess, manufacture and distribute child pornography.

Beattie was previously employed as a physician at West River Health Services in Hettinger before leaving in January 2006 to accept the position of chairman of the Family Medicine Department at the University of North Dakota.

Police received a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children regarding the IP address. An investigation showed that the IP address—a numerical label assigned to each device that utilizes an Internet connection—was found to be associated with Beattie’s home address.

A search warrant was served at both Beattie’s home and his current place of employment.

Assisting in the search were the Grand Forks Police Department, North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigations, University of North Dakota Police Department and Homeland Security Investigations.

According to documents filed Friday in Grand Forks County District Court, Beattie is charged with 10 counts of possession of child pornography, a Class C Felony. A Class C Felony carries a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment, up to a $5,000 fine, or both.

Beattie has retained Peter David Welte, an attorney with Vogel Law Firm in Grand Forks, as council, according to court documents.

Originally from Garrison, Beattie formerly served as chief of the Family Medicine and Obstetrics-Gynecology services in Hettinger and was also coordinator with the Rural Opportunities in Medical Education (ROME) program.

A call to West River Health Services was not immediately returned. West River also operates facilities in Bowman, Dickinson, Hettinger, Mott, New England, Scranton and Lemmon, SD.

This is the latest of two incidents where a doctor affiliated with West River Health Services had been arrested for misconduct. Last month, Robert John Gustafson, a surgeon at West River, pleaded not guilty to 12 counts related to the alleged sexual abuse of a teenage girl in Oregon.

Gustafson, 46, began working in November as a surgeon specializing in laparoscopic surgery at West River Health Services. He is still employed by the health care provider as he awaits a September court date in Oregon.

(Bryce Martin, Pioneer editor, contributed to this report.)

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