A former high school teacher in Iowa is headed to federal prison after pleading guilty to sexually exploiting a student.
Abraham Christopher Smith, 39, was sentenced to 24 years in federal prison on Tuesday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Iowa said in a press release Wednesday.
Smith had pleaded guilty in June to enticement of a minor.
According to court documents, Smith was a teacher at Southeast Polk High School when he “knowingly persuaded, induced, and enticed” a 15-year-old student at the school to engage in sexual activity with him. The encounters occurred on at least two separate dates in October 2020.
Smith recorded at least one of the encounters on his iPhone. Investigators found the video stored in a “private photo vault” application that also contained “multiple sexually provocative images” of the victim, along with text messages.
It is unclear how many encounters occurred between Smith and the student.
“Many of the communications between Defendant and Minor Victim #1 were sexually charged in nature and many related to in-person sexual acts that previously occurred between them and in-person sexual acts Defendant was planning and soliciting to occur between them,” the plea agreement said.
According to the U.S Justice Department, Smith had been a full-time teacher at the school for several years.
“A teacher sexually exploiting a student is a very serious crime,” prosecutor Richard Westphal said in the press release. “Students must be safe at school. Parents deserve to have confidence that educators to whom they entrust their children are not preying on them. This prosecution and sentence should send a message to any school staff member contemplating exploiting a minor that the consequences may be decades in prison.”
As part of the plea, three additional federal child pornography charges were dismissed. The enticement of a minor charge carried a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, and a maximum of up to life.
After serving his sentence, Smith will be on supervised release for 10 more years. He will also have to register as a sex offender.
Iowa state court records show that Smith was also charged with multiple state crimes, including sexual abuse, sexual exploitation of a minor, and sexual exploitation by a school employee.
“According to court documents, there was a pattern of intercourse between Smith and a 15-year-old female student. Documents detail two such incidents, one at the home of the victim and another at a park while stargazing, earlier this month,” local CBS affiliate KCCI reported in October 2020, when Smith was arrested.
“The [Southeast Polk School] District has been cooperating with law enforcement and will continue to work together in the investigation of this matter,” school officials told KCCI at the time. “The teacher has been placed on paid administrative leave indefinitely. The District takes allegations of misconduct seriously and will take responsive action for the best interests of students. Our first priority is to provide a safe and positive learning environment.”
The state charges were dismissed in December 2020, when Smith was indicted on the federal charges.
School officials declined to comment on Smith’s sentencing.
[Image via Polk County Sheriff’s Office)
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]