Former MCPS Lunch Aide Sentenced to Probation in Child Pornography Case
Terms of probation include no unsupervised contact with children, including online
A former public school lunch aide who pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography was sentenced to probation on Wednesday in Montgomery County Circuit Court.
Sean Renfrew Kelley, 30, of Columbia, pleaded guilty to three counts of possession of child pornography earlier this month. As part of a plea agreement, Kelley agreed to serve five years of supervised probation, with the condition that he may apply for a sentence modification after three years.
Kelley was arrested by Maryland State Police in January and was initially charged with three counts of distribution of imagery of a minor engaged in sexual conduct and seven counts of possession of imagery of an individual younger than 16 engaged in sexual conduct, the release stated.
Upon learning of the allegations, Montgomery County Public Schools placed Kelley on administrative leave from his part-time job as a lunch-hour aide at Cloverly Elementary School in Silver Spring.
School officials told parents the digital images involved in the case were not photographs of any MCPS students.
Kelley is also a former employee of Kids After Hours, a day care that operates before and after school programs. He worked at Cannon Road Elementary School in Silver Spring.
Alex Foster, Kelley’s defense attorney, said Kelley is a graduate of MCPS and University of Maryland who is very smart, but falls on the autism spectrum, hampering interpersonal relationships.
Foster called child pornography a “toxic scourge,” but said Kelley didn’t play a role in creating or distributing the material. The attorney also said, given the ubiquity of child pornography online, it’s easy to be misdirected to “dark corners of the internet.”
“It’s just everywhere. People can stumble into danger on the internet,” Foster said after Wednesday’s hearing.
But during the hearing, Assistant State’s Attorney Andrew Han said the volume of images recovered from Kelley’s computer didn’t reflect someone who stumbled into a dark corner, but rather a person who stayed a while.
Foster said Kelley has been in counseling since his arrest and will continue to go. He also said he had no concern that Kelley would abide by the terms of probation, noting a pre-sentencing evaluation which concluded that Kelley’s personality was extremely rule-oriented.
“I’m not concerned about Sean reoffending. He’s learned his lesson,” Foster said.
Judge Eric M. Johnson also imposed a three-year prison sentence for each count, but suspended the prison terms entirely. If Kelley were to violate the terms of his probation, the suspended time could be imposed.
While on probation, Kelley must register as a sex offender, receive sex offender treatment and continue with mental health treatment. He may not have any unsupervised contact with minors, including over the internet.
Kelley will serve probation in Howard County, where he lives. He is no longer employed by MCPS, the school system confirmed Wednesday.