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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Virginia

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Former Music Teacher Guilty of Producing Images of Child Sexual Abuse

RICHMOND, Va. – A former Richmond City Public Schools elementary music teacher pleaded guilty today to producing images of child sexual abuse.

According to court documents, Kellen Thomas Donelson, 32, came to the attention of law enforcement in 2019 for uploading multiple images of child pornography via Snapchat and Kik Messenger. During a court-authorized search of his home and electronic devices in December 2019, law enforcement discovered additional images and videos of child sexual abuse.

According to the statement of facts, Donelson admitted that he produced several images and videos of child pornography using his personal cell phone, including with a victim as young as 4 years old.

Donelson was arrested on Dec. 5, 2019. At the time of his arrest, he was employed as an elementary school music teacher with Richmond City Public Schools and an Associate Minister/Music Director at Mount Hope Baptist Church.

Donelson pleaded guilty to production of child pornography. He faces a mandatory minimum of 15 years in prison and a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison when sentenced on Sept. 28, 2020. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by U.S. Attorney’s Offices and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (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

G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Raymond Villanueva, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington, D.C., made the announcement after U.S. District Judge M. Hannah Lauck accepted the plea. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Elliker is prosecuting the case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 3:20-cr-055.

Project Safe Childhood
Joshua Stueve Director of Public Affairs
Updated June 24, 2020