CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – A former Kanawha County elementary school counselor has pleaded guilty in a child pornography case.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, court documents show Todd Christopher Roatsey, 43, of Elkview pleaded guilty to charges of attempted production of child pornography and attempted enticement of a minor. At the time of the allegations, Roatsey was working as a school counselor at Pinch Elementary School in Kanawha County.
Court documents say Roatsey admitted to posing as an 18-year-old on Snapchat, and, in January 2020, began communicating with a girl he believed to be 16 years old and a second girl he also believed was a minor. According to court records, Roatsey persuaded the girls to record and send “numerous sexually explicit videos” and also sent them explicit videos of himself.
According to documents presented in court, Roatsey allegedly used the Snapchat account to communicate with “several minor females he knew through his position as a Pinch Elementary School counselor.” Those communications included more than 100 Snapchat conversations that he recorded with two girls who were both approximately 12 years old.
Court records say one of those girls was a Pinch Elementary Student at the time.
The DOJ also says Roatsey admitted to “distributing, receiving, possessing, and accessing child pornography” from October 9, 2019 through July 16, 2021. Court documents say this includes images and videos depicting infants and toddlers. Those images were found on devices seized from Roatsey’s home including his cell phone, an encrypted cloud-based file storage service, and the Kik app.
According to court records, Roatsey also distributed various images and videos of “prepubescent minors” engaged in sexually explicit conduct to other people.
“The crimes to which the defendant pleaded guilty today are truly horrific,” said United States Attorney Will Thompson. “They are made even worse because the defendant was a school counselor at a grade school. Schools are often the only constant for so many of our children, and are often seen for some children as their only safe place. Due to the challenges our children face today, it has never been more important for our children to have grown-ups at school they can turn to and trust. Our children need to feel safe in our schools.”
Court documents say Roatsey deleted the Snapchat account just hours before Homeland Security Investigations executed a search warrant at his home and seized numerous electronic devices on Oct. 28, 2021. The DOJ says that by deleting the account, Roatsey obstructed justice because the action made various Snapchat records inaccessible to law enforcement and, therefore, unavailable for any subsequent federal prosecution.
Roatsey faces between 25 and 35 years in prison, followed by federal supervised released for the rest of his life, when he is sentenced on Sept. 14, 2022. He is also required to register as a sex offender.