Two time Survivor contestant, Michael Skupin, was found guilty Friday (11/18) of four of six counts of child pornography after a one-day trial, said a spokesman from the Michigan Oakland County Clerk to People magazine.
Skupin had pleaded not guilty to 11 charges of child pornography and racketeering stemming from an investigation by the Michigan attorney general.
According to the clerk’s spokesperson, the pornography and financial charges were split and Skupin will be tried separately for the racketeering charges beginning next week, after which his sentence will be handed down.
Skupin, who was arrested in February, had been out on bond during his trial and will remain out on bond until the conclusion of the second trial, according to a source close to him.
While investigating the racketeering charge in which several people alleged they were victims of a “Pay it Forward” gifting scheme, law enforcement discovered child pornography on Skupin’s computer.
“The children in these videos and images were exploited, and each time the images were shared and viewed continued their suffering,” Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said in a statement. “My hope is that today’s conviction will bring some closure to the families and the children that are victims in this case.”
Skupin maintained his innocence. In a statement to People before his trial, he claimed that the the computer was used by several people and that the images were not date stamped, so it is unclear when, exactly, they were accessed — or if they were accessed at all.
Skupin also insists that the investment scheme was not fraudulent and that he has the evidence to back up his claims in court.
“This has been the longest, hardest, and most arduous 10 months of my entire life. Nothing compares to it,” Skupin’s statement read. “Family and friends have both shown up in a big way or have left my life completely. I have witnessed a level of love I never thought possible — and also a level of judgement and abandonment that I never knew existed.”
Skupin, who is the father of seven children, appeared on Survivor: The Australian Outback, where he became the first person to be medically evacuated from the reality show after he fell into a fire. He also competed in Survivor: Philippines.
Via People magazine