BURLINGTON — A paraeducator employed by the Colchester School District was charged with possession of child pornography in federal district court here on Monday.
According to court documents, law enforcement officers on Monday searched the Jericho home of Bradley Smith, 66.
Colchester Superintendent Amy Minor released a statement from the district saying, “At this time, law
enforcement has no evidence of any misconduct by this employee on school grounds or with
any children in the Colchester School District.”
Because personnel issues are confidential, the school did not comment on Smith specifically beyond that initial statement. The school district’s statement did say, however, that in situations such as this the employee will be placed on administrative leave while the school conducts an investigation, during which the employee is barred from having contact with students or staff.
“If the charges of serious misconduct against the employee are substantiated, we take disciplinary action, usually termination,” the statement reads. “The safety of our students and staff are our highest priority. The district is committed to taking all necessary actions to protect them.”
Minor also said that she and the Union Memorial School Principal Chris Antonicci had spoken directly with the parents of children in the classroom where Smith worked.
Caitlin Moynihan, a special agent with Homeland Security Investigations, filed the affidavit with the court supporting the charges. She described serving the warrant on Smith, interviewing him in his home, and some of the materials found on his computer.
The warrant was served at 6 a.m. on Monday by federal agents and Detective Matt Raymond of the Vermont Attorney General’s Office.
Moynihan reported that Smith agreed to be interviewed by herself and Raymond in the basement of his home.
During that interview Smith said he works as a paraeducator in a first grade classroom, worked as a car salesman and was once a fifth grade teacher in Barre.
He has a password protected internet connection, a laptop and cell phone.
When asked if he ever used his computer to view pornography, Smith said he had.
Asked if he had ever used his computer to view child pornography, Smith answered, “I’ve seen it, yeah,” according to Moynihan. Smith also reportedly said that the youngest child he had ever seen in pornography was five years old.
Moynihan’s affidavit states Smith admitted to using the internet to search for pornographic images of children, but said he had not been part of any chat groups or communicated with anyone else online about child pornography.
Smith also revealed that he typically searches for girls and had last done so on Sunday when he looked at an image of a five-year-old.
An initial search of Smith’s laptop uncovered more than 100 images of child pornography.
The affidavit describes three images of prepubescent girls in lewd poses found on the laptop.
Court documents indicate the investigation began with a tip to the Vermont Attorney General’s Office from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), a private nonprofit dedicated to ending child sexual exploitation and the location of missing children.
That tip indicated someone with an internet IP address assigned to Smith’s residence may have downloaded explicit photos of young girls.
Smith has been released with conditions while his case proceeds. Those conditions bar him from having contact with minors except in the presence of an adult approved by his probation officer. He is also barred from public areas where children congregate, such as schools and playgrounds. His computer use will be monitored.
He is scheduled to return to federal court on April 16 for an arraignment or preliminary hearing.