HELENA — Former East Helena Police Chief William Daly Harrington pleaded guilty to the distribution of child pornography on Tuesday in federal court.
Harrington, 43, entered a plea agreement with the government who dropped two of the three distribution of child pornography charges and one count of possession of child pornography. He faces a mandatory minimum of five years to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and five years to a lifetime of supervised release. Harrington will also be required to register as a sex offender.
Chief U.S. District Judge Brian M. Morris presided and set sentencing for April 13, 2022. Morris will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. Harrington was released pending further proceedings.
Harrington was named the chief of the East Helena police in 2019. At the time, he had been on the force for more than a decade and previously served two terms as the interim police chief.
On Feb. 1, 2021, someone filed a complaint with the Lewis and Clark County Sheriff's Office accusing Harrington of sexual assault.
The City of East Helena placed Harrington on leave on Feb., 3. East Helena leaders contacted the Montana Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation to conduct an investigation and brought in an outside law firm to investigate Harrington's workplace conduct
Roughly a month later, on March 4, East Helena Mayor James Schell notified the public safety officer standards and training council of the allegation. Harrington resigned from the department the following day.
On May 25, Harrington was charged with distributing child pornography in federal court. He surrendered to the FBI and was taken into custody.
The City of East Helena released the report from the outside investigator on June 17. The report expressed concerns over Harrington's behavior. Including video monitoring of employees, keeping police personnel files separate from city human resources and significant overtime for Harrington and other members of the department.
The report also said that East Helena City leaders didn't provide enough oversight of Harrington.