AP NEWS

Orange County teacher charged in child porn sweep

May 9, 2019

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday announced charges against a fifth grade teacher, linking him to a statewide child porn sweep.

Stefan Winfried Anders taught at New Hope Elementary School in Hillsborough. He was suspended from that position after allegations surfaced about child pornography photos discovered and linked to his computer.

Investigators seized and searched seven cell phones, six computers, more than a dozen thumb drives and assorted camera equipment that Anders used, including three computers that were the property of Orange County Schools.

A school district spokesman said that Anders has since resigned his position and that no Orange County students were connected to the investigation.

The State Bureau of Investigation said Friday that 17 children have been rescued from child exploitation and 82 suspects have been arrested as part of a special multi-state investigation that included the Carolinas.

Investigators said six people in North Carolina were arrested on underage sex charges. On Friday, a Town of Cary spokesman identified two of them.

Charges against Anders took longer, according to Ashley Woodlief, lead investigator on the case, to allow for a thorough search of files and devices.

“We still have more digital material to process, but at this point, we determined Mr. Anders possessed multiple photographs, the content of which is in violation of the laws of North Carolina,” Woodlief said. “We have charged Mr. Anders with 15 counts of third degree sexual exploitation of a minor, a class H felony.”

So far, the review has not found any New Hope Elementary School students to be the subject of the illegal photographs.

More details about the other arrests made in North Carolina were pending, the SBI said.

The suspects were accused of traveling to meet and have sex with minors or of possessing and distributing child pornography.

According to the SBI, planning for the special task force began four months ago and unfolded over three days of law enforcement action.

The suspects who were arrested ranged in age from 20 to 70 years old, and their occupations included a firefighter, restaurant worker, store clerk, small business owner, youth minister, students and a construction worker.

The SBI said the task force executed 134 search warrants across the eight states, and 1,613 digital devices were seized, including 203 cell phones.

The sting was named “Operation Southern Impact III” and included 171 law enforcement officers across eight states, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia, the SBI said in a written statement.