Former elementary school teacher gets 13 years for child pornography
An elementary school teacher found in possession of thousands of images and videos of child pornography was sentenced today to 13 years in prison.
Ralph Watts Conrad, 43, of Hamilton, had pleaded guilty to 50 counts of possession of child pornography.
Loudoun Circuit Court Judge Stephan Sincavage handed down one year for each of the 50 counts, but suspended time for the remaining 37.
Sincavage also gave Conrad 20 years supervised probation upon his release from prison. Conrad must register as a sex offender, which carries its own set of restrictions, and must undergo mental health counseling upon his release.
The defense, led by Caleb Kershner, had argued for the minimum sentence for his client since Conrad was found to be suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder and schizophrenia.
Conrad had told a psychiatrist he downloaded and traded the child pornography because he believed himself to be portraying a teenage girl, using the handle vahottie and vahottie93.
Sincavage didn't buy the argument when considering the punishment, saying Conrad had engaged in this type of behavior for over 10 years.
“... This court doesn't find that argument to be compelling. Even if it was possessed for that purpose, you need to look at what it is … there is no reason to have that stuff … this is … like plutonium. This is radio active,” Sincavage said.
For the past 15 years, Conrad had worked as an art teacher in Loudoun County. At the time of his September 2013 arrest, he was employed at Algonkian Elementary School, but in the past had served as an itinerant instructor at Belmont Station, Lowes Island, Frances Hazel Reid, Mill Run and Creighton's Corner elementary schools. Conrad had been disciplined once after speaking with a middle school girl and using explicit terms to describe her buttocks and breasts.
Though charged with 50 counts, investigation revealed Conrad had in his possession 528 videos and more than 2,000 sexually explicit images of minors, including some children as young as 2 and 3 years old. There were also images of bestiality.
No Loudoun County children were in any of the pictures or videos.
During the sentencing hearing, the judge said a report from a psychiatrist that evaluated Conrad said Conrad believed what he was doing was a victimless crime since the images were already on the Internet.
Sincavage once again corrected Conrad.
“The children that are the subject of these images and these videos are victims every time someone looks at the video or image. They're victims every time someone is directed or enticed to view the video or image. It is not a victimless crime,” he said.
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