Former Pinch Elementary Counselor Sentenced to 25 Years in Prison for Child Exploitation Crimes
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of West Virginia
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Todd Christopher Roatsey, 43, of Elkview, a former counselor at Pinch Elementary School in Kanawha County, was sentenced today to 25 years in prison, to be followed by a lifetime of supervised release, for attempted production of child pornography and attempted enticement of a minor. Roatsey must also pay $23,000 in restitution to his victims and register as a sex offender.
According to court documents and statements made in court, beginning in January 2020, Roatsey communicated via the Snapchat instant messaging application with one girl he believed to be 16 and a second female he believed also to be a minor. Roatsey admitted that he posed as an 18-year-old boy while persuading each to record and send him numerous sexually explicit videos that depicted each female masturbating. Roatsey further admitted that he sent both girls videos of himself masturbating.
Roatsey also 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 videos that Roatsey recorded while communicating with two minor females, each approximately 12 years old. One was a student at Pinch Elementary at the time. During these conversations, Roatsey received numerous videos of the minor females doing what he called “sexy” dance routines or gymnastics poses such as full backbends. The minor females often wore only sports bras and shorts in these videos. Roatsey admitted to responding to these videos by telling the minor females they were “hot” and “sexy.”
The Court found Roatsey had caused “incalculable damage” to his victims.
“As an elementary school counselor, Roatsey intentionally placed himself in a position of trust over the kinds of children to whom he was sexually attracted,” said United States Attorney Will Thompson. “In our communities, schools are the only constant for a lot of children. A lot of the time, school is the safe place. The fact that Mr. Roatsey made this not a safe place was, I find, to be very horrific.”
Roatsey further 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. 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 distributed various images and videos of prepubescent minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct to other individuals.
On October 28, 2021, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security-Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) executed a search warrant at Roatsey’s residence and seized numerous electronic devices found to contain child pornography. Roatsey admitted that several hours after law enforcement completed the search and left his residence, he deleted the Snapchat account he used to engage in these activities. By deleting the account, Roatsey obstructed justice by making various Snapchat records inaccessible to law enforcement and unavailable for any subsequent federal prosecution.
Thompson made the announcement and commended the investigative work of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security - Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the West Virginia State Police.
“Today’s sentencing is reflective of just how despicable and damaging Todd Roatsey’s crimes against children are and emphasizes HSI’s dedication to holding perpetrators accountable,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Derek W. Gordon of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington, D.C. “Today’s sentence sends an important message to all predators. We will not allow any crime against children to go unpunished. HSI is dedicated to protecting our most vulnerable population against sexual predators who seek to take advantage of their innocence.”
Senior United States District Judge John T. Copenhaver, Jr. imposed the sentence. Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer Rada Herrald prosecuted the case.
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 December 19, 2022