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Sarcoxie School Board Member Charged With Possessing Child Porn

SARCOXIE, Mo. -- A member of the Sarcoxie, Mo., school board was charged in federal court today with possessing child pornography.

SARCOXIE, Mo. -- A member of the Sarcoxie Board of Education was charged in federal court today with possessing child pornography.

John R. Lewis, 67, of Sarcoxie, was charged in a criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court in Springfield with possessing child pornography.

Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, says Lewis was arrested without incident prior to Thursday night's school board meeting and remains in federal custody pending a detention hearing.

According to an affidavit filed in support of today's federal criminal complaint, Missouri State Highway Patrol troopers contacted Lewis as part of their investigation into allegations that he had exposed himself to a group of high school students who were working for Lewis on his farm outside of Sarcoxie. The troopers obtained a search warrant for Lewis's residence and seized two desktop computers, a laptop computer and electronic storage devices.

Investigators determined that the computers contained 19 multimedia files of child pornography and 113 images of suspected child pornography. The multimedia files and images depicted children as young as five years old.

The district has released the following statement:

"Nothing is more important to the district than providing a safe and secure learning and working environment for children. The district is aware that law enforcement authorities are investigating allegations against a school Board member. The district is providing its full cooperation in connection with the investigation, and will continue to do so. However, the district cannot give specific information about the investigation due to state and federal confidentiality laws. More information may be available from law enforcement authorities, as they are not covered by these same privacy laws. In the meantime, however, we can tell you that the district has complied with all applicable law and with district policy in responding to this situation, and will continue to do so. We will continue to focus on this commitment as the district moves forward to give our students the best education possible. We welcome the support of the community during this process."

Superintendent Dr. Kevin Goddard tells KOLR10 News it's likely that no appointments will be made for Lewis' position because Lewis' term was to expire at the end of the semester. An election is scheduled in a month.

Dickinson cautioned that the charges contained in this indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.

This case is being prosecuted by Supervisory Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael S. Oliver. It was investigated by the Missouri State Highway Patrol and the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force.

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