Madison High math teacher charged with 3rd degree sexual exploitation of a minor

MARSHALL — A Madison High School math teacher was charged with sexual exploitation of a minor after local law enforcement authorities said they found child pornography during a forensic investigation of his cellphone.

According to Sheriff Buddy Harwood, the child pornography was not related to any Madison County students, but Robert Burnette, 30, was charged with six felony warrants for third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor after a Madison County Sheriff's Office investigation revealed Burnette was secretly recording and photographing students.

"On Tuesday, May 24th my office was notified of a complaint regarding a teacher at Madison High School," Harwood said. "The school administration and my school resource officer received a report that math teacher Robert Burnette was secretly photographing or recording students. Based on that report my detectives and the Madison County school administration began an immediate investigation."

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Harwood said MCSO issued additional charges for three felony counts of secretly using a photographic imaging device to view another’s body or undergarments, 22 felony counts of possessing a photographic image obtained in violation of the peeping statute, and 16 felony counts of secretly using or installing a photographic imaging device to arouse or gratify sexual desire.

The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation assisted with the investigation, according to the sheriff.

According to a press release sent to The News-Record & Sentinel on the evening of May 26, Madison County Schools was made aware of an allegation regarding Burnette on May 24 and suspended him on that day.

"We immediately turned the allegation over to our Sheriff’s Department for investigation," Superintendent Will Hoffman said. "In addition, Mr. Burnette was immediately suspended and has been restricted from all unsupervised access to Madison County Schools' campuses in order for the school district to investigate the matter. The school district is continuing to cooperate with the law enforcement investigation, as well as conducting our own internal investigation."

According to Hoffman, Burnette was under a one-year contract that expired at the end of this school year. He was in his second year at Madison High.

Burnette is being held in the Yancey County Sheriff's Office Detention Facility under a $325,000 secured bond.

Harwood said his office contacted federal agents with the Department of Homeland Security for further assistance in this ongoing investigation.

Burnette is due in court in Madison County on June 7.

This article originally appeared on Asheville Citizen Times: Madison High math teacher charged with sexual exploitation of a minor