State College, PA has had its share of unpleasant headlines recently (see, e.g. “Sandusky, Jerry“). Now come reports that Wesley Amy, a State College Area High School computer science teacher, has been convicted by a jury of offering students good grades in exchange for nude photos.
The 28-year-old educator began teaching computer science at the high school in the fall of October 2013. Within weeks, he began communicating with two female students on Facebook. As the local district attorney stated in a press release [a copy is available below], Amy “began his grooming process early by initiating private Facebook conversations at all hours of the day and night with them; even when they were in school.”
Amy also engaged in a variety of other typical grooming behaviors. The district attorney’s press release offers a graphic illustration of how that grooming progressed:
Eventually, after gaining these minors’ trust, he knowingly isolated the youngest child victim and held a private Facebook discussion about pornography; he knowingly disseminated a pornographic image of a teenager performing oral sex on an adult male; recommended a pornographic anime series; and even inquired about her sex life, asking whether she had engaged in sexual intercourse with another student or a teacher. Then, after he had thoroughly desensitized this minor to the topic of sexual conduct, he began soliciting her for nude photographs.
When his requests for nude photos were rejected, Amy told the students that naked photos could earn them better grades. In one recovered Facebook chat, for instance, Amy told a student that “You can get an A or B, but you have to motivate me to give you that grade.”
The Unicorn Diversion
Investigators were tipped off to Amy’s conduct by a third student, who was encouraged by Amy to join his computer science class in the spring of 2014, notwithstanding the fact that she had not taken various prerequisite classes. In April, Amy gave the student a flash drive that he labeled “Plan B.” He told the young woman that if she put nude photos of herself on the drive and returned it to him, he would give her a perfect grade on the final project for the class.
Not really believing that Amy was serious, the student loaded “a silly photograph of a unicorn” onto the drive and gave it to Amy. When he saw what she had done, he gave it back to her and angrily told her to “fix it.” Realizing that he in fact was serious, the young woman told a friend, who in turn told his mother. The mother relayed the information to the district administration and the local police.
Guilty on All Charges
Amy was charged with a number of different felony and misdemeanor offenses, including: “sexual abuse of children, unlawful contact with a minor and dissemination to minors as well as three counts of corruption of minors.” On Friday, October 23, Amy was found guilty of each charge.
He will be sentenced on December 10. Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller told a local television station that she will “seek an appropriate sentence for this egregious breach of trust by a teacher who was entrusted with our children.”
Regardless of how much time Amy serves in prison, he is required under Pennsylvania law to register as a sex offender for the next 25 years. He resigned his teaching position following his arrest in May 2014 and has been stripped of his teaching license.