Teacher under investigation

Published 10:01 am Wednesday, April 6, 2011

PEDRO ­— A Rock Hill High School teacher has been placed on administrative leave as the district and the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office conduct an investigation on allegations that the teacher had pornographic material on his school computers.

The investigation began after the school district discovered two male students had engaged in sexual activity on the campus during school hours in February, according to a report by LCSO Detective Aaron Bollinger.

Rock Hill School Superintendent Wes Hairston told Bollinger he learned of the incident in early March. The school district then began an internal investigation and asked for assistance from the sheriff’s office.

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It was during this investigation that allegations about the teacher’s conduct came up including leaving these students unsupervised and not reporting the incident.

“Hairston also advised that there have been allegations that (the teacher) has pornographic material on his school computer, which has been witnessed by faculty and possibly other students,” according to Bollinger’s statement filed with the sheriff’s office investigation report.

One of the students alleged that the teacher “showed him a pornographic picture of a woman on his cellular phone,” the statement said.

Bollinger interviewed the teacher with his attorney at the sheriff’s office. The teacher said that while the boys were in the room unsupervised, his office was across an entrance way and the doors were open. The teacher also said he had documented the incident and provided Bollinger with a written report.

The teacher did admit to Bollinger that “inappropriate material” exists on his school computers. He was asked if he ever viewed or searched for child pornography.

“He stated that he did not think so,” Bollinger reported. “(He) admitted that he has looked up pornography on the school Dell 360 computer. (He) drew me a picture to show me that when he is viewing pornography, the students cannot see his computer from their position in the room and his computer faces an exterior wall.”

The teacher told Bollinger that he viewed pornography approximately once a week, but that it had been a few weeks since he had done so on the school computer during school hours.

Hairston requested that the sheriff’s office obtain the teacher’s school computer and have it analyzed by the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, as well as a laptop used by the teacher.

“Basically it is to see if there were any illegal images that had been downloaded on that computer,” Sheriff Jeff Lawless said. “They would be able to go back on the hard drive or to what website had been accessed.”

While there may be some types of adult pornography that are illegal to view, a large percentage is not, the sheriff said.

“As free Americans you can access that kind of material if you so desire,” Lawless said. “With legal pornography there may be an issue as far as doing so at the place of work. But child pornography is definitely illegal. You can’t have nude photos of children or children engaged in sexual acts.”

Lawless said typical turnaround for an BCI&I investigation is 30 days.

Calls made to Hairston were not returned.