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Ex-High School Teacher Sentenced to 30 Years in Prison for Blackmailing Dozens of Children for ‘Explicit’ Photos and Videos

Brandon Lane McCullough

Brandon Lane McCullough

A former high school teacher in Missouri was sentenced on Tuesday to 30 years in prison for blackmailing dozens of children over the internet. Brandon Lane McCullough, 33, pleaded guilty back in Aug. 4, 2021 to sexual exploitation and coercing charges.

His pattern was to tell the children he would delete the old material — sexual images and videos — once he got the new, federal prosecutors said in a press statement and his plea agreement.

Authorities say they were only able to identify 11 of the kids. Dozens remain unknown, according to the Department of Justice.

McCullough was a business teacher as Cassville High School.

“This defendant, a high school teacher, pretended to be a teenager online in order to prey upon young victims across the country,” said U.S. Attorney Teresa Moore of the Western District of Missouri. “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. Such appalling criminal behavior warrants the severe penalty he received today.”

This case landed on law enforcement radar after the mother of one of Jane Doe 1 said the child was having sexually explicit conversations over the app Kik with another used with the account “brianmagee8809.”

That “brianmagee8809” was actually McCullough pretending to be a 15-year-old boy, prosecutors said. He threatened to send the explicit images and videos to Doe 1’s family unless she sent him more of the same, authorities said.

He preyed on the girl through another vantage point, pretending he was a 17-year-old boy under the account “t. Hollins Tyler Hollins.” Doe 1 told this second persona about being blackmailed, prosecutors said. McCullough told her to keep meeting his demands, according to the DOJ.

After the victim’s mother told police, New Jersey officers in turn reached out to federal authorities in Missouri. Investigators executed a search warrant on McCullough’s home in Branson, Missouri, on May 7, 2020. There, they found an external hard drive containing dozens of Kik folders. There were chats, as well as thousands of images and videos of child pornography, which were made by the victims, prosecutors said. Some of them were younger than the 14-year-old Doe 1.

“McCullough admitted to contacting minors through Kik to solicit sexually explicit images,” documents said. “McCullough stated he began using Kik to engage in sexual chats in 2014, and the chats eventually progressed to sexual chats with minors.”

This blackmailing behavior began as early as Nov. 1, 2018, authorities said.

“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,” said HSI Special Agent in Charge of the Kansas City area of operations Katherine Greer. “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.”

[Booking photo via Greene County Jail]

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