March 25, 2009

By Jacob Quinn Sanders
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

PERRYVILLE — The University of Arkansas at Little Rock computer-system programmer known as Skirtman got his first surprise when he answered the door of his house on Wye Mountain wearing nothing but a bathrobe and saw two men in uniform.

The uniformed men — at least one was a Perry County sheriff’s deputy — were there Saturday looking for a 16-year-old girl whose parents had reported her missing. The car the girl drove to Dale Owen Miller’s house was in the driveway, next to his own, the one with the license plate carrying a phonetic spelling of “Skirtman.”

This was just the beginning. By Tuesday afternoon, Miller would be fresh out of jail, hunting for a lawyer to avoid a prison sentence of a decade or so and wondering aloud whether Arkansas law allowed for a difference between having child pornography knowingly and unknowingly.

Right then, all he knew was somebody in uniform needed to ask him a few questions.

Miller is 51. He is proud of the nickname Skirtman, earned because of his choice to wear skirts rather than shorts or pants at almost every opportunity. His personal Web site, his Facebook page, his Flickr photo collection — all depict him in skirts. He used to wear them to work at UALR but stopped about 10 years ago after some alumni and trustees complained, he said.

The teenage girl was indeed at Miller’s house. He had corresponded with her on Facebook and over e-mail, he said, and they had talked on the phone a few times. On Saturday, she showed up hours earlier than planned, Miller said. He was planning to take her to a choir concert in Little Rock, one in which he would perform, he said.

“It was a nighttime thing and she showed up quite unexpectedly at noon,” Miller said in an interview.

He was naked when she arrived and so had time to throw on nothing save the bathrobe, he said. Miller said he wore the same robe with nothing underneath when the Perry County deputy sheriff arrived about 4 p.m.

He missed the concert, spending the night in the Perry County jail. Sheriff Scott Montgomery charged Miller with contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile, a misdemeanor. Montgomery issued Miller a citation but kept him locked up through the weekend anyway until he could see a judge so bail could be set.

“It was intimated to me that I should have assumed that she was there without her parents’ permission,” Miller said. “But I never asked. I never assumed anything one way or another.”

At the bail hearing late Monday afternoon, Miller got his second surprise. The Arkansas State Police, which Montgomery requested take over the investigation, accused Miller of possessing two images of child pornography, found when they searched a computer in his home. Each image resulted in a felony charge, carrying a possible sentence upon conviction of three to 10 years in prison.

“I figured they were looking for child pornography,” Miller said. “I mean, why would an adult man even talk to a 16-year-old young woman, let alone have one in his home, right? But I didn’t think there was any to find. That’s not my thing.”

He posted a $45,000 bond and was released from jail Tuesday morning.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jonathan Ross said the investigation is continuing.

Judy Williams, communications director at UALR, said the university is gathering information and determining its next step regarding Miller. Miller does not teach classes and in his job as a program and project manager would interact with students only rarely, she said.

All three charges were beyond unexpected, Miller said.

“I was in a state of shock,” he said. “There is no other way to describe it. There’s nothing that can prepare you for that moment. I’m still not sure I comprehend what it all means for me.”

Montgomery said he gave Miller the misdemeanor citation at about 2 a.m. Sunday, though the time written on it is 4:10 p.m. on Saturday. Montgomery said the time reflected when a deputy first took Miller to jail.

“In the meantime, there I am handcuffed to a desk most of the time,” Miller said. “It was two hours before anyone even spoke to me.”

State police Special Agent Joe Carter finally talked with Miller. He asked consent to search Miller’s house, in particular four computers Miller kept there.

“I explained to him that I wanted to take them from his home and have them imaged to which he responded that he thought that I meant that I wanted to copy the hard drives, which is exactly what I meant,” Carter wrote in an affidavit for an arrest warrant filed Monday in Perry County District Court.

Miller sounded almost amused at the thought of Perry County sheriff’s office officials and state police investigators rummaging through his house.

“I do have some things at my home that you normally don’t see in the house of a single heterosexual male living in the woods,” he said, referring to his clothing collection.

A preliminary search of the computers found two images on a Compaq desktop computer, both of which a forensic examiner found to be “likely” matches to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s database of child pornography, according to Carter’s affidavit.

“My suspicion is,” Miller said, “since I certainly never knowingly downloaded child pornography, that one of my computer programs picked up something I didn’t know about.”

Miller said he uses a computer program to search public Internet user groups for pictures of exhibitionist pornography.

“That’s my fetish,” he said. “I’d rather that not be in the paper, but it’s part of the explanation of what happened. I can’t hide from that.”

He checks through the photos the program culls every month or two, he said, throwing out the vast majority — ones he doesn’t want to keep.

He said Tuesday afternoon that he had not yet talked to a lawyer, nor had he read the statutes describing his charges.

“I’m worried,” he said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen to me from here.”

  1. […] hadn’t heard of Skirtman when someone told me he’d been arrested. Strange, considering how public he is about his […]

    • Anonymous says:

      As of this writing, moments ago, Mr. Miller has plead guilty to some of the charges against him in exchange for a reduced sentence. He was taken into custody immediately following the plea bargain and will serve 6 years in State prison.

  2. watchdog says:

    Thankfully this occured prior to the fall 2010 kickball season. Now parents (who bring their kids) dont have to worry about that creep being at interstate park on sundays.

  3. thedeacon says:

    If you want the OTHER side of the story, you should email There is always more than one side to the story. And he isn’t a creep, Jerk.

  4. thedeacon says:

    Okay, I did NOT post ^that^. Please, people, no emails. If I catch who posted this from my computer, they shall suffer.

    I will say this– namecalling *isn’t* nice.

  5. chandra says:

    This was indeed an injustice perpetrated by the sheriffs office. Dale Miller is neither a “creep” nor a pervert nor a sex offender, and of no danger to little children at the (adults only) kick ball games. And yet, because he agreed to allow his computers to be searched, and 2 questionable pictures were found, he’s condemned for life to be an Arkansas “sex offender”, and the state of Arkansas offers no way out of this. Our laws are poor in this area.

    Just ask yourself – are you very sure that questionable pictures aren’t on your computers, if the cops came to your door and ask for your computers? Do you know what’s gotten onto your computer storage device from your searches on the internet?

  6. Kathy says:

    Dale was arrested in March, 2009.

    When were the pictures downloaded to his computer ?

    How many times did he open the file with the pictures ?

    If he open them, then did he move to delete them ?

    Yes, I believe that it is possible to download something that you do not know about.

    Why jail some one for some thing that happen in the past ?

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