Former Hettinger doctor to plead guilty

A former Hettinger doctor reached a plea agreement this week with federal prosecutors on charges related to child pornography.


By COLE BENZ | Herald Editor |

Robert William Beattie, 55, agreed to plead guilty to one count of receiving and distributing materials containing child pornography and one count of possessing materials containing child pornography in U.S. District Court in Grand Forks.

If a judge accepts the plea, Beattie would face a minimum mandatory sentence of 5 years imprisonment.

Beattie was originally charged in August with 10 counts of possessing child pornography, but those charges, filed in Northeast Central District Court, were dismissed and the case was moved to federal court.

Beattie previously worked as a physician at West River Health Services in Hettinger. He went on to serve as chief of staff and chief of obstetrics-gynecology at West River until he left in 2006 for a position at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. He was serving as a university department chairman at the time of his arrest.

Grand Forks law enforcement followed a tip that an IP (internet protocol) address was allegedly being used in the possession, manufacturing and distribution of child pornography. Further investigation discovered that the IP address was associated with Beattie.

A search of his home and place of business discovered the illicit material.

The two counts to which Beattie has pleaded guilty carry minimum penalty of five years imprisonment, a maximum of 40 years, $500,000 in fines and a lifetime of supervised release.

According to documents filed with the U.S. District Court, Beattie and his attorney, Peter Welte of Vogel Law Firm in Grand Forks, signed the plea agreement on Feb. 2. The court will decide to accept the plea during a court date next month.

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