On Thursday, a U.S. District Judge M. Douglas Harpool sentenced a 33-year-old former teacher to 30 years in federal prison without the possibility of parole after he coerced young children into sending him pornographic images and videos of themselves.
Authorities seized a hard drive from the home of Brandon Lane McCullough that contained thousands of explicit photos and videos of children. Police investigation revealed that he had been exploiting minors since November 2018. During the time when he was committing the crimes, he was a business teacher at a local Missouri high school.
McCullough pleaded guilty in 2021 to three counts of sexual exploitation of a minor and two counts of coercing and enticing a minor to engage in illicit sexual activity. Police identified 11 underage victims that McCullough blackmailed and tricked into sending the explicit images and videos.
When McCullough’s sentence is complete, he will spend the rest of his life on supervised release. He was also required to pay one of the victims $204,199 in restitution.
U.S. Attorney Teresa Moore stated, “He victimized 11 children who have been identified, and many more who have not yet been identified, in a horrific sexploitation scheme. He enticed countless child victims to send him explicit images of themselves, then threatened to share those images with their families and friends over social media unless they continued to send him even more explicit images and videos.”
A federal investigation began in 2020 after a New Jersey mother reported that her 14-year-old daughter was having sexually explicit conversations and sending pornographic images to McCullough through a messaging application. The former teacher told the young girl that he was a 15-year-old boy. After he had convinced her to send explicit pictures and videos, he threatened to send them to her family if she refused to send more.
“Today’s sentencing is reflective of just how despicable and damaging McCullough’s crimes against children are and emphasizes HSI’s dedication to hold perpetrators accountable,” special agent in charge of the Kansas City area for Homeland Security Investigations Katherine Greer said. “We, alongside our law enforcement partners, are committed to the eradication of sextortion from our communities, but we need the public’s help. HSI asks parents, guardians, teachers, caregivers — anyone who interacts with a child — to be on the lookout for, and report, suspicious online behavior to the proper authorities, regardless of whether the individual is in a position of public trust, like McCullough.”
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