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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Former Fayette teacher pleads guilty to receiving child pornography

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A 31-year old man from Weirton, West Virginia pleaded guilty today in federal court in Charleston to receiving child pornography, United States Attorney Booth Goodwin announced.  Joshua Mark Taylor, a former teacher at Collins Middle School, in Oak Hill, West Virginia entered a guilty plea before United States District Court Judge John T. Copenhaver, Jr. in Charleston.

According to court documents and proceedings, Taylor was employed by the Fayette County Board of Education as teacher at Collins Middle School from approximately March of 2013 to January of 2014.  Taylor admitted that in November of 2013, he exchanged a large number of text messages with a 12-year-old female who was a student at the school. Taylor also admitted that from about November  to January of 2014, he persuaded the student to take photographs of her genital area and send them to him on his cell phone.  Taylor admitted to receiving the sexually explicit images on his cell phone on December 14, 2013.  Finally, Taylor admitted to distributing or attempting to distribute the sexually explicit images through interstate commerce.

The investigation was initiated by the West Virginia State Police in January of 2014, after the father of the student reported her missing.  Taylor picked the minor up at her family home and returned her to her home uninjured after she was missing for nearly 22 hours.  The investigation led to Taylor’s arrest the next day in St. Marys, West Virginia.  Prior to being arrested, Taylor sent the minor a text message urging her not to cooperate with the investigation or prosecution.

Taylor faces a mandatory prison sentence of 15 years, to be followed by 20 years of supervised release, and a maximum fine of $250,000. Taylor will also be required to register as a sex offender.  Sentencing is scheduled for September 23, 2015.

U.S. Attorney Goodwin credited the West Virginia State Police and the other law enforcement agencies that worked so hard on the investigation.  “The collaborative efforts of the West Virginia State Police, West Virginia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, Fayette County Sheriff’s Department, and Federal Bureau of Investigation should be commended.  Their cooperation brought yet another child predator to justice,” said Goodwin.

Assistant United States Attorney Lisa G. Johnston is in charge of the prosecution.

This case is being brought as part of U.S. Attorney Goodwin’s ongoing initiative to combat child sexual exploitation and abuse in the Southern District of West Virginia.

Updated June 23, 2015