A fired high school photography teacher received five years in prison — the maximum sentence — for coercing a teenage girl into a photoshoot, according to KSNV. Jeff Whiston, 44, received the punishment back on Sept. 28, records show, but this was only recently reported.
He had taught photography at Chiawana High School in the city of Pasco, Washington. Authorities have said that he offered students free photoshoots resembling “senior photos.” One of the girls, younger than age 17, took him up on this and joined him in an exterior shop on his Benton City property, officials said.
But he asked her to get completely undressed. The girl said she felt obligated to do this because the door was blocked, authorities said.
Whiston took what KEPR described as numerous photos of the girl while she was undressed, though she told detectives she covered up to stop from being completely exposed. Whiston asked her if she would get completely naked. When she refused, he asked if she would feel more comfortable doing that once she turned 18.
Deputies reportedly said Whiston admitted that the photoshoot happened but he asked for an attorney when investigators wanted more detail.
“On April 12, 2022, our detectives met with Pasco School District administration and staff regarding their employee Whiston,” deputies wrote at the time of his arrest in April for felony sexual exploitation of a minor. “The Pasco School District had received an email from a concerned parent regarding Whiston having an inappropriate meeting with a 16-year female student. Detectives learned Whiston had invited the student to his personal residence in Benton County for a photoshoot on April 6, 2022. During this encounter the student was purportedly asked to pose in sexually suggestive and revealing positions.”
“Pasco School District has learned that district employee Jeffrey Whiston was arrested Tuesday night by the Benton County Sherriff’s Office on charges related to illegal conduct with a minor,” the Pasco School District reportedly said in an April statement. “The investigation began Tuesday after the district received a report from a concerned parent. Mr. Whiston was placed on administrative leave Tuesday morning in accordance with standard district procedure and the report was made to law enforcement. If true, these allegations represent a breach of our trust and a disappointing departure from our standards for all district employees. The safety of our students is the highest priority of our school and district staff members. Because this is an open investigation, this is the only information Pasco School District will be providing at this time. Media outlets should direct any further questions to the Benton County Sheriff’s Office.”
The district ended up firing Whiston. He pleaded guilty on Aug. 26.
In addition to the five years in prison, Whiston must spend three years on probation and register as a sex offender.
[Screenshot via KEPR]
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