A former school aide and choir director faces federal child pornography charges after he allegedly made videos of children having sex with him and each other at a school, church and other locations in Maryland, U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein announced Tuesday.
Each of the eight federal child pornography charges against Deonte Carraway carries a life sentence. The total mandatory minimum is 120 years.
Carraway also faces child sex abuse charges in state court.
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"All of our child exploitation cases are horrible," Rosenstein said. "This case is particularly disturbing."
Carraway, 22, is accused of filming "vile sexual acts" between children ages 9 to 13 while working as a school volunteer at Judge Sylvania Woods Elementary in Glenarden.
Carraway was arrested Feb. 5 after after the uncle of a 9-year-old boy saw a nude image on the child's phone, according to police, who said Carraway waived his rights and admitted his role in producing child pornography.
"OK, it's time I told the truth," Carraway said, according to an affidavit. "Yes, I have videos, and yes you will find some on my orange phone, basically the same ones. How I get the videos is the kids would send them in the chat. I would hide them, but I really do care for the children. I know it was wrong. I'm a bad person. I'm no child of God for doing this."
According to victim testimony, Carraway used his authority to threaten some of the victims, Prince George's County Bureau Chief Tracee Wilkins reported.
"The defendant allegedly took a child out of a classroom to a dressing room in the building and instructed the child to take off his clothes," Rosenstein said. "According to the allegations in the complaint, the child resisted, didn't want to do it, at which point the victim threatened him that if he didn't comply, the defendant would report him to the principal or the police."
Rosenstein credited a boy's uncle with putting an end to the crime, allowing victims to get the help they need and protecting other children from being victimized. Police identified 17 victims and say there may be more.
"It's so critical for parents to be alert to what your child is doing online," Rosenstein said.
He said parents shouldn't feel like they are invading their children's privacy. They have the right to know what their children are doing.
Police Chief Hank Stawinski said there was no negligence on the part of parents or caregivers.
According to court documents, FBI agents investigating Carraway discovered dozens of videos depicting child pornography, some of which appeared to have been recorded in a school restroom.
Carraway can be seen in one video molesting a child, according to the documents. In other videos, he can be heard directing the victims.
Police said Carraway victimized children at school, the Zion Praise Tabernacle Lutheran Church, Glenarden Municipal Center, Theresa Banks Memorial Aquatic Center and in private homes.
Carraway was a volunteer teacher's assistant at the school this year and the director of the Glenarden Voices of Youth Choir at the municipal center, police said. He was a paid assistant at the school during the 2014-15 school year.
Nothing criminal was found in Carraway's background check before he started working for the school in November 2014, according to officials. But he did have a juvenile criminal record that had been protected, sources said. Legislation introduced by a Maryland state senator would let schools see if a job candidate had a sex offense record as a juvenile.
A lawsuit filed in connection with the case alleges the principal knew about Carraway's misconduct and failed to act. Prince George's County Public Schools CEO Dr. Kevin Maxwell said Principal Michelle Williams has been placed on leave out of "an abundance of caution."
Information on an attorney for Carraway was not immediately available.