Crime

Former Fort Mill teacher pleads guilty in Va. to child porn. Next comes sentencing.

Eric Hartley
Eric Hartley

A former teacher at a Fort Mill school faces as much as 20 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to possession of child porn, according to prosecutors and court documents.

Eric Hartley, 37, was a business teacher at Fort Mill High School until he resigned after his arrest Feb. 28.

Hartley pleaded guilty Monday in federal court. He faces a mandatory five years in prison, but could face up to 20 years, documents state.

Hartley and another man from Virginia discussed trading exploitative images of children, including infants and toddlers, prosecutors said. After the discussions, Hartley then exchanged images and videos and Internet child pornography, said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney in Virginia.

Hartley was charged by federal agents with having more than 20 child pornography pictures that he obtained using the Kik and Dropbox social media programs.

No area children were involved, prosecutors said.

However, while talking in text messages with the other person about the photos in 2016, Hartley did discuss his work as a teacher at a coastal South Carolina school district in Georgetown County, prosecutors said in court documents.

Hartley said in those text messages he wanted the experience he saw in the child porn images, prosecutors said.

“It is tough working around these young boys,” Hartley said in a text message, court documents show.

There was no evidence presented that Hartley acted on his fantasies or touched any children at any school, according to documents.

Hartley’s teaching license was suspended when he was arrested. Federal prosecutors said in court that Hartley was a danger to society and children if allowed exposure to students.

Hartley will be sentenced on Sept. 27, according to court documents.

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