A former Kansas teacher was sentenced to 30 years in prison plus 5 years of supervised release in a child sex abuse case.
Jeffrey Pierce impersonated young girls on social media to solicit explicit images from young boys, the DOJ said.
The parents of some of the victims addressed Pierce at his sentencing, calling him a "monster."
A former teacher in Kansas was sentenced to 30 years in prison after reaching a plea deal for producing child sexual abuse materials when he impersonated young girls on social media to solicit explicit photos from young boys.
The Justice Department said in a statement that 42-year-old Jeffrey Pierce "impersonated a minor female on various social media platforms" to get minor males in the area — some of whom he taught — to "create and send him images of themselves engaging in sexually explicit conduct."
At a sentencing hearing on Thursday, Pierce — who said he felt "especially bad" for the parents of his victims and tried to argue that he was a "changed man" — hung his head after his sentence was handed down, according to the Topeka Capital-Journal. In his plea deal, Pierce pleaded guilty to one count of producing child pornography and had 11 other federal charges dropped in exchange, the outlet reported.
One of Pierce's victims spoke at the hearing, along with two mothers of other teenagers involved in the case, per the Capital-Journal.
"It's hard to deal with," the unnamed victim said, per the Capital-Journal. "I've tried to suppress it."
"You are a monster," one of the mothers said to Pierce, while the other called him a "wolf in sheep's clothing."
Pierce, a former teacher and basketball coach at Seaman High School in Topeka, perpetuated his "exploitative scheme" for several years, targeting "minors in his own community, including his own students at the high school where he formerly taught," per the DOJ. Pierce taught ninth-grade social studies until he was fired in September 2020 after he was arrested, according to the Capital-Journal.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation identified over 80 minors who were victims of Pierce's, according to the DOJ statement. Authorities said they found thousands of images and videos of "minor males engaged in sexually explicit conduct," as well as images of minors undressing that "appear to have been taken in locker rooms at two Topeka high schools," per the statement.
"Pierce's online communications with these victims established that he coerced at least one minor to send him additional sexually explicit material by threatening to distribute that minor's images to others, distributed sexually explicit images of other minors, and encouraged another minor to engage in in-person sexual conduct with him while he was still impersonating a minor female," the DOJ statement said.
In a plea agreement, Pierce admitted to pretending to be a teenage girl while soliciting nine male minors for explicit photos through social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and Kik between October 2018 and September 2020, per the Capital-Journal.
In addition to receiving the maximum 30-year prison sentence, Pierce was also sentenced to 5 years of supervised release and must pay over $55,100 in special assessments, per the DOJ.
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