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Middle school teacher pleads guilty to child pornography charges

Following up on our June 2, 2015 post about a gym teacher ("South Carolina gym teacher faces child pornography charges"), the man recently pleaded guilty in federal court. The middle school teacher may be behind bars for between five and 20 years. He may also have to pay as much as $250,000 in fines, and be subjected to court-ordered supervision for the rest of his life. It is expected that he will be sentenced on the conviction for the child pornography charges within the next two to three months.

As mentioned in our June post, at his indictment in March, it was reported that only non-pornographic images of fully clothed teenagers were found in the possession of the accused. It was reported that he used those images to trade for pornographic material. Federal investigators report that they had since found pornographic material on his computer. These included images and videos of children engaged in acts of a sexual nature with adults. Some children were reportedly as young as 3 years old.

According to federal prosecutors, the unlawful distribution of child pornography occurred from July 2012 through Feb. 2014. The arrest took place on Dec. 12, 2014. Following his arrest, he was placed on mandatory leave from his duties at the school. Furthermore, the South Carolina Board of Education cancelled his teaching certificate. He is also facing related charges at the state level, including four separate allegations of sexually exploiting a minor.

The reason for the gym teacher's guilty plea to child pornography charges is unknown, but it is not uncommon for the defense counsel and the prosecutors to negotiate agreements. Pleas are typically part of a defense strategy to secure favorable treatment in the form of reduced charges, when available and in the best interests of the defendant. Criminal defense is a complicated process, and the support and guidance of an experienced attorney may be invaluable in protecting the rights of an accused individual throughout the legal proceedings.

Source: FOX Carolina, "Former Upstate teacher pleads guilty to child pornography charge", Kim Kimzey, Sept. 3, 2015

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