South Carolina

Former SC special education teacher faces 25 child pornography charges

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A retired South Carolina teacher faces more than two-dozen charges in connection with possessing and distributing child pornography, according to officials.

Tracy Lee Smith, of Aiken, was arrested this week on 25 charges, according to the S.C. Attorney General’s Office. They include 11 counts of second-degree sexual exploitation of a minor and 14 counts of third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor.

Investigators with the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office learned that Smith, 61, possessed and distributed child pornography, according to a release. They found videos of children ranging in age from 3 to 15, without clothes and engaging in sexually explicit acts, the Aiken Standard reported.

Smith was employed by Aiken County Public Schools from October 1981 until he retired in June 2016, according to district spokeswoman Merry Glenne Piccolino.

During that time, Smith worked as a special education teacher, providing services to students with emotional disabilities in “a self-contained setting,” Piccolino said. She explained that special education teachers in these settings have staff, known as special education paraprofessionals, in their classrooms “to assist with meeting the diverse needs of their students.”

Before that, Smith worked as a program specialist in the Department of Special Programs, serving in a coaching role to support teachers and administrators, Piccolino said.

The case stemmed from an investigation by the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office, said Robert Kittle, spokesman for the attorney general’s office. Kittle could not comment on whether any of Smith’s former students could be in any of the images recovered, and said the investigation is ongoing.

Smith has been released on bond, according to jail and court records.

Each of the charges against Smith carries a maximum of 10 years in prison, under South Carolina law, meaning he could face up to 250 years.

Teddy Kulmala covers breaking news for The State and covered crime and courts for seven years in Columbia, Rock Hill, Aiken and Lumberton, N.C. He graduated from Clemson University and grew up in Barnwell County.
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