Montgomery County school employee charged in child porn case

A Montgomery County school employee who worked at two elementary schools was arrested Friday and charged with distributing child pornography.

The school district says that the pornographic images that Sean Kelley, 30, is charged with possessing and distributing did not show photographs of Montgomery County students.

“These charges are extremely upsetting and distressing. This type of behavior does not reflect the principles of MCPS or our community, and it will not be tolerated,” Cloverly Elementary School Principal Melissa Brunson wrote in a letter to parents on Friday, after Kelley was arrested by Maryland State Police.

Kelley worked as a part-time lunch aide at Cloverly, Brunson said. School district spokesman Derek Turner said he was hired in October 2016 and worked until September, when he was placed on administrative leave.

Kelley also spent four days working at the Kids After Hours day-care program at Cannon Road Elementary School, during the first week of this school year, day-care owner Bob Sickels wrote in a letter to parents on Friday. Sickels said that his program conducted a criminal-background check, using an FBI database, and found that Kelley had a clean record. Then on Sept. 8, leaders of the program became aware of accusations that Kelley had viewed child pornography online. They dismissed him from his job at the day-care program immediately, Sickels said.

State police said that the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children picked up on suspected distributiong of child pornography from a computer at Kelley’s home in Silver Spring in July. Police began investigating, and obtained a warrant to search Kelley’s home at 7 a.m. on Friday. There, they found evidence to charge Kelley with seven counts of possessing images of a child under 16 engaging in sexual conduct, and three counts of distributing images of minors engaged in sexual conduct.

Based on his online profiles, Kelley seems to have had a more extensive career working with children. Liberty Grove United Methodist Church in Burtonsville describes him on the church website as the junior church coordinator, a role in which he plans and leads activities for children on Sunday mornings at the church he has attended since he was a kindergartener himself. He joined the church staff in 2006, the website says.

Youth minister Don Hauprich declined to talk on Saturday, and pastor Jeff Paulson could not immediately be reached.

The church site also said that Kelley earned degrees in elementary education and family science at the University of Maryland, and that he has worked in Fairfax County schools as well as Montgomery County.

A Fairfax County Public Schools spokesman could not immediately confirm whether Kelley ever worked in the school system.

Kelley appears to be the creator of a website in which he calls himself “Captain Sean” and offers episode-by-episode reviews of children’s TV shows, including “Girl Meets World” and “Andi Mack.”

He self-published several books for young people, including one in which a grieving child and a grieving teacher form a relationship to, in Kelley’s words, “help each other through the crazy ride known as ‘life’.” Kelley’s hand-drawn illustration on the book cover shows the small girl holding her teacher’s hand on a roller coaster.

On his blog, he said he worked in schools in the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years. He wrote letters at the end of each year sharing his best wishes for his students.

“But seriously, I miss you all so much,” he wrote to one departing class of students. “We spent over 900 hours in the same room together and I am so proud to say that I was able to spend time with each and every one of you. I never got tired or bored of you all. You all just kept getting more intelligent, kind, and beautiful with each passing day. All I could do was love you all more as time went by.”

He was held without bond after his arrest Friday.

Donna St. George contributed to this report.

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