WASHINGTON — A former Prince George’s County, Maryland, substitute teacher and basketball coach has pleaded guilty to uploading and sharing child pornography online and will be sentenced to 30 to 40 years in prison.
Christopher Speights coached basketball at Bradbury Heights Elementary School, in Capitol Heights, for about nine years, as well as a traveling basketball team.
He had been charged with child sex abuse and possession and distribution of child pornography. He’ll be sentenced in July.
After he entered his guilty plea, prosecutors said the case involved up to 59 children, including some from Bradbury Heights. “Unfortunately, we cannot identify them all,” said Kelly Burrell, of the state Attorney General’s office.
Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks said that, like most predators, Speights took advantage of opportunities to be around kids. “He availed himself of children everywhere that he could find them,” she said, “which is why he very likely made himself a substitute teacher in one of our schools for many years.”
Speights was arrested by Maryland State Police in April 2017 after they got a tip from the online storage company Dropbox that someone was storing child pornography on their site that involved children as young as 5 years old.
Asked in September of that year to estimate the number of victims, Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks said, “We can only say, at this point, dozens is an accurate way to say it.”
According to court records, Speight used fake identities online to coerce more than 20 minors to send him sexually explicit images of themselves, recorded himself sexually exploiting three boys during school and basketball team trips in Maryland, and secretly recorded two boys in a hotel bathroom during a trip to North Carolina.
He was also able to “reach out to many kids in the school system and in his coaching his teams, and he used those kids to photograph other kids,” Burrell said.
Speights pleaded guilty Tuesday to similar federal charges — two counts of production of child pornography and one count of production and attempted production of child pornography. His sentences in the two cases will run concurrently.
The Associated Press and WTOP’s John Aaron contributed to this report.