Former Pinch Elementary Counselor Pleads Guilty to Child Exploitation Crimes
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of West Virginia
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The former counselor at Pinch Elementary in Kanawha County pleaded guilty today to attempted production of child pornography and attempted enticement of a minor.
According to court documents and statements made in court, Todd Christopher Roatsey, 43, of Elkview, admitted to posing as an 18-year-old boy while using the Snapchat instant messaging application to communicate with multiple minor females.
Beginning in January 2020, Roatsey began communicating via Snapchat with one girl he believed to be 16 and a second female he believed also to be a minor. He persuaded each to record and send him numerous sexually explicit videos that depicted each female masturbating. Roatsey also sent both girls videos of himself masturbating
Roatsey further used this Snapchat account to communicate with several minor females he knew through his position as a Pinch Elementary School counselor. These communications included more than 100 Snapchat conversations Roatsey recorded with two of these minor females, both approximately 12 years old and one of whom was then a student at Pinch Elementary. During these conversations, Roatsey told the girls that they were “hot” and “sexy” and received numerous videos of the minor females doing “TikTok” style dance routines wearing only sports bras and shorts. In other videos, the minor females would do various gymnastics poses such as full backbends.
Roatsey also admitted to distributing, receiving, possessing, and accessing child pornography, including images and videos depicting infants and toddlers, through a variety of media between at least October 9, 2019, through July 16, 2021. Specifically, Roatsey possessed child pornography on devices seized from his residence, including his cell phone, and on the encrypted cloud-based file storage service Mega. Using both Mega and the messaging application Kik, Roatsey also distributed various images and videos of prepubescent minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct to other individuals.
On October 28, 2021, Roatsey deleted the Snapchat account he used to engage in these activities within hours of Homeland Security Investigations executing a search warrant at his residence and seizing numerous electronic devices found to contain child pornography. By deleting the account, he obstructed justice by making various Snapchat records inaccessible to law enforcement and unavailable for any subsequent federal prosecution.
“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.”
“The demand for justice in this case could not have been more clear, and was made possible by the excellent investigative work of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security - Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and its task force officers,” Thompson continued. “I also commend Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer Rada Herrald for prosecuting the case.”
“Mr. Roatsey abused his position of trust in order to victimize the most vulnerable members of our society” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Brenda Nevano of HSI Washington, D.C. “Today, he will begin the process of repaying his debt to society. HSI Washington, D.C. is proud to have partnered with the United States Attorney’s Office to bring Mr. Roatsey to justice, and we will continue to work tirelessly to protect the law-abiding citizens under our care.”
Roatsey is scheduled to be sentenced on September 14, 2022. Under the terms of the plea agreement, Roatsey faces between 25 and 35 years in prison, to be followed by federal supervised release for the rest of his life. He must also register as a sex offender.
Senior United States District Judge John T. Copenhaver, Jr., presided over the hearing.
This case was prosecuted as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative of the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorney’s Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute those who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia. Related court documents and information can be found on PACER by searching for Case No. 2:21-cr-235.
Updated June 13, 2022
Project Safe Childhood