Former Virginia High School Science Teacher Sentenced to 23 Years in Prison for Producing Child Pornography
A Charlottesville, Virginia man was sentenced today to 276 months in prison for production of child pornography, announced Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Thomas T. Cullen of the Western District of Virginia and Special Agent in Charge Patrick J. Lechleitner of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations Washington, D.C. field office.
Richard Wellbeloved-Stone, 57, pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia to one count of production of child pornography. Senior U.S. District Judge Norman K. Moon presided over the sentencing and ordered him to serve a lifetime of supervised release following his prison sentence.
Wellbeloved-Stone, a high school teacher in Charlottesville, was discovered by law enforcement after chatting online with an undercover agent from the United Kingdom about sexually abusing a young child. A search warrant executed at Wellbeloved-Stone’s home recovered several images of child pornography produced by Wellbeloved-Stone of at least two young minor victims.
“As a high school science teacher, the defendant held a position of great trust in our society – a trust he abused when he produced horrific images of young children,” said Assistant Attorney General Benczkowski. “Today’s sentence reflects the unwavering commitment of our prosecutors and law enforcement partners to combat child pornography and to hold offenders accountable for their deplorable crimes.”
“This defendant, through his heinous acts, betrayed the trust of the Charlottesville community,” said U.S. Attorney Cullen. “We are grateful for the hard work of our federal, state, and local law-enforcement partners in bringing him to justice and making our community safer.”
“Child predators are the worst type of criminals,” said HSI Special Agent in Charge Lechleitner. “They prey on innocent children for their own self-gratification. While we can’t undo Wellbeloved-Stone’s actions, today’s sentence ensures he can’t victimize anyone else.”
This case was investigated by HSI Washington, D.C., the Charlottesville Police Department, the Virginia State Police, the Albemarle County Police Department and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section’s (CEOS) High Technology Investigative Unit.
This case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Leslie Williams Fisher of the Criminal Division’s CEOS and Assistant U.S. Attorney Nancy Healey.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorney’s Offices and CEOS, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.