Erica Jones

Ex-Substitute Teacher Pleads Guilty to Child Porn, Abuse Charges

At least 59 victims have been identified, prosecutors said

A former substitute teacher and basketball coach in Prince George's County pleaded guilty Friday to sexually abusing and taping dozens of children who trusted him.

Christopher Speights pleaded guilty to distribution of child pornography, possession of child pornography, child sex abuse and photographing child pornography, Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks announced Friday. 

Speights pleaded guilty to federal charges in a related case earlier this week.

Speights worked at Bradbury Heights Elementary School as a substitute teacher and as a coach for Prince George's County Public Schools for nine years. He was also a basketball coach for South County Sports Academy. 

Students at Bradbury Heights Elementary School called him "Coach Chris."

At least 59 victims have been identified, prosecutors said, and some of the victims are students at Bradbury Heights. 

"Mr. Speights did what most predators do and he availed himself at every opportunity...to be around children," Alsobrooks said.

Prosecutors said Speights lured students to his home or victimized them during basketball road trips. Investigators and Homeland Security agents executed a search warrant at his home in April and found child pornography on Speights’ cellphone, laptop and iPad, police said. 

Speights admitted to possessing child porn on the iPad and to filming some of the minors he coached while the minors were staying in North Carolina for a basketball team trip in March 2016, according to prosecutors.

Speights placed his backpack in the hotel room's bathroom, with his iPad recording from a hole in the outside pocket of the backpack. Speights recorded 11-year-old boys without their knowledge, prosecutors said.

Speights also directed his victims to perform certain acts, prosecutors previously said.

"He took advantage of his position. He was able to reach out to many kids in the school system and in his coaching and in his teams. And he used those kids to photograph other kids and to generate more images for his purposes," said Kelly Burrell, a prosecutor for the Maryland Attorney General's Office.

According to the federal plea agreement, law enforcement was further able to identify three different dates when Speights produced images of himself engaging in sexual contact with a boy.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children referred a tip about child pornography on a Dropbox account to state police Dec. 13, 2016.

Investigators tracked the Dropbox account, which had more than 100 images and videos of children engaged in sexual conduct with each other and with adults, to Speights’ Capitol Heights home, police said.

Speights will be sentenced in July in Prince George's County and in federal court.

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