Former UI music professor allegedly distributed meth, possessed child pornography

The university’s Department of Music sent a statement to students in the department on Tuesday regarding the charges.

Sabine Martin, Managing Editor

Editor’s Note: This article makes brief mention of instances of sexual misconduct and harassment, including alleged nonconsensual sexual acts. 

Retired University of Iowa Music School professor John Muriello is facing federal charges of possessing child pornography and distributing methamphetamine that resulted in a death. 

The voice and opera professor, 65, allegedly possessed thousands of sexually explicit photos and videos, many of them including minors, on electronic devices seized by the Iowa City Police Department in 2021. 

Muriello is being held in Muscatine County Jail without bond, and his trial is set for Dec. 5 in Davenport.

Tammie Walker, UI School of Music director, wrote in a statement sent to music department students on Tuesday evening that the school is providing support and resources following the news of Iowa City Police’s investigation of Muriello

“The university takes these allegations very seriously and encourages anyone with information or concerns to contact ICPD,” Walker wrote. “I realize this news may be upsetting, so please reach out if you need assistance.”

10-page search warrant illuminates allegations 

Iowa City police served a search warrant on May 28, 2021, to Muriello’s residence and seized multiple electronic items including his phone, a computer, and electronic storage devices, according to an Iowa City police search warrant application.  

Police found 18,580 photos and 3,183 videos on an electronic storage device, with over a thousand including minor boys. 

The police also reported seizing methamphetamine from the residence. There was also a search of Muriello’s garbage on Nov. 20, 2020, according to the search warrant. The search allegedly found “numerous syringes and needles, indica, and baggies.” 

Police found multiple media files containing child pornography were reported and child pornography was located on an electronic storage device after searching Muriello’s computer. 

Allegations trace back to 2020

On April 10, 2020, the UI allegedly received an email from a parent of a UI freshman regarding Muriello. The writer claimed their son allegedly attended a party at Murrielo’s Iowa City residence where Murrielo allegedly provided methamphetamines and used gamma-hydroxybutyrate to “drug party goers to have sex with them,” according to a search warrant application. 

Gamma-hydroxybutyrate, prescribed as Xyrem, is also known as a common “date rape drug.”

The parent’s email also claimed Muriello allegedly sought out younger adults and teenagers as young as 17-years-old to have sex. In addition, the parent wrote the professor allegedly recorded sex acts with people, and he possessed an “extensive” child porn collection on multiple devices in his residence. 

The warrant application lists another report from an alleged 19-year-old UI student who developed a relationship with Muriello. Muriello allegedly supplied this student with meth and had nonconsensual sex with the student multiple times.  

The student allegedly also reported they saw younger, adult males at the professor’s residence and witnessed him viewing child pornography on his computer.

Eleanor Hildebrandt and Ryan Hansen contributed to this report.